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Hopewell Area School District

Implementation of Family STEAM Night

Parental Engagement





Target group
January 2024
We cannot stress enough how important it is to have families involved in the school. Coming out of the pandemic, kids felt disjointed. We can't let the barriers prohibit us from doing something that brings families into the school.

About the implementation

The goal was to find a way to bring the community back into the school (beyond sports). We wanted families, not just students, to participate and interact with school people. We designed and held a Family STEAM Night for all families across our three elementary schools to come together in a fun and purposeful way.

What did you do in practice?

Family STEAM Night provided an opportunity for families to attend an inclusive event for students in grades K-4. We brought in a wide variety of outside vendors from Beaver and Allegheny counties to acquaint our families with many of the family oriented businesses in the surrounding areas. In addition, the group of teachers who attended worked with and visited with families to help build that parent-school connection.

Why did you do this implementation trial?

Our student base has been changing. Shell Corporation had started to build a plant in Hopewell and this has led to a change in demographics. How could we make these families and students feel welcomed and how could we make sure that students saw themselves in our school? After COVID, we wanted an opportunity for all our families in the three elementary schools to feel welcomed, excited and connected to teachers and the school.


The event was really well attended, partly because it was the first big event post-pandemic. It was jam packed and a hands-on, tech-free night. Parents and kids just enjoyed one another and had a great experience. We had to leave and buy more supplies during the event because of the incredible turnout!

It was so neat to see parents interacting with each other in a way we hadn’t seen in years.
A former Hopewell student came back to run a STEAM station; he wanted to "give back."
Kids asked, when are we doing this again?
We received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the survey we sent out afterwards.
We had several teachers who volunteered their time and brought their families.

Learning Journey

Empathy Interviews
The school team that came together around family and school engagement included PTA moms, a school board member and a teacher. We invited parents from all three elementary buildings. In our empathy interviews, we learned families did not feel connected to the school for a variety of reasons. Parents wanted to feel that they are a part of the school community, would like volunteer opportunities outside of the school day and a sense of belonging in our school community.
Aspirational Statement
Given the desire by both parents and teachers to feel more connected, our team focused on finding ways for everyone to begin building a relationship. To guide our work, we chose this for our aspirational statement: "We will work to continue building trust between families, educators and administrators."
Hack: STEAM Night
In consideration of our changing and expanding demographic, a Family STEAM Night was conceived to bring together and connect parents, kids and school staff. We asked community partners such as the local library, nonprofits and community colleges to host hands-on activity stations. Even former students came back to host STEAM-related activities. The event was jam packed and families enjoyed doing these activities with their kids. Families were able to connect with each other and school staff.
Reflections on Hack
Planning has to be done systematically – we tried to anticipate as many things as we could. We were really thoughtful about how to plan the activities and about asking the question: Will every child be able to participate in the event? Our stations were diverse and ranged from the Moonshot Museum to a cool dome structure brought by the Carnegie Science Center and set up in the gym. Former students, teachers and parents manned different stations, creating a great community vibe.
Parent Feedback
We sent a Google form to the parents who attended and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. The only complaint was that it was a bit crowded. On event night, it was gratifying to see the parents involved with their children. It was also fun to see the parents fully participate, express their excitement and be competitive at the STEAM stations. After the event, we felt that parents were more engaged in the education of their children - a very good outcome.
Lessons Learned and Next Steps
For this first big effort at relationship re-building with families we wanted to make it fun for both children and parents. Importantly, we also wanted to make sure every child felt connected at the event. We tried an arts event in the spring that did not have the same participation but from which we learned that timing is key. It was too busy a time in the school calendar. We'll continue to promote the community and have ideas on reimagining our school Open House in the future.


Hopewell Area School District is a small, suburban public school district located in Beaver County, Pennsylvani. We serve the townships of Hopewell, Raccoon, and Independence and encompass approximately 62 square miles.

Hopewell Area School District