MSMS Students Journey to Hattiesburg for Traveling STEM Carnival


Hunter Lawson

Elijah Dosda presents Camoflauge at the Traveling Science Carnival

Davan Reece, Staff Writer

Students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science hopped on a travel bus to Hattiesburg on Wednesday, Feb. 13, to bring the annual Traveling STEM Carnival to Thames Middle School.

Dr. Bill Odom and Mrs. Lauren Zarandona, accompanied by about 60 students, taught fourth grade students from the Hattiesburg area about many things, such as  hand-washing, multiplication, division and even inertia.

The carnival was divided into two sections: science and math. The MSMS students in the science section presented projects and experiments that introduced higher-level scientific concepts. The students in the math section, however, focused teaching students different and more effective ways to answer more challenging grade-level concepts.

“My day was very good,” said senior Kelsey Hollingsworth. 

Hollingsworth and her partner Lilian Le taught the students division through way of play-money. “The kids really enjoyed that. They like having money.”

Hollingsworth was confident that the opportunity would help her in her future career endeavors. “I want to be a lawyer. I think the STEM Carnival helped me develop my public speaking skills and taught me how to be civil because I didn’t choke anybody, even though I really really wanted to.”

“It was fun entertaining the kiddos,” said senior Josh Seid. “Me and my partner, Taylor Willis, did a microbiology thing. It was about hand-washing and the differences between hand-soap and hand sanitizer.”

Junior Cameron Thomas also made the trip. “I got there not knowing what to expect,” Thomas said. “After the Carnival got started, I got the gist of what was going on. The kids were enjoying what we were showing, and I got more involved and interested.”

Thomas’s job was to create a breakout box. Essentially, a breakout box is a complicated puzzle in the vein as an escape room, where participants squander to find the required code to enter a locked box. “Me, Maria and Michelle made an online breakout box, and we tried to make it very challenging, but I think the most challenging part about it was showing the kids the proper and most efficient ways to do the math problems. Having to explain it over and over again helped me become better at explaining complicated situations and gave me insight on the kids’ mindset.”

Most of the presenters in the math section were members of the MSMS math outreach team and class, led by Mrs. Zarandona. Throughout the year, members of math outreach prepared challenging yet entertaining games and activities for elementary and middle school students around the state of Mississippi.

“If any juniors out there have the opportunity to be in any of the outreach programs with math and Mrs. Z, we do a lot of fun activities such as helping with the making of Math Superstars, making videos and prepping the problems and their solutions, and we are also prepping for the math tournament coming up in a few weeks. If you have the opportunity to join Math Outreach, do it. It’s very fun and very worth it,” said Hollingsworth.

“I love being in math outreach,” Thomas added. “Especially working with Liz and Mrs. Z. It’s great to give back to the community and to schools around the state and share my love for math with others.”

MSMS’s next outreach project, the annual math tournament, will be Tuesday, Feb. 26.