Happy Holidays!
December is upon us and Friends of STEM wants to wish everyone a happy holiday season. Be healthy and be safe and we hope you enjoy peace with those you love this holiday season. We look forward to 2021 bringing us back together soon.

Knowing that many STEM families often like to express gratitude to their kids’ teachers by giving them gifts before the Holiday Break and to let families know if their kids’ teachers have favorite retailers, FOS reached out to teachers to ask. Here is a list of retailers that grateful teachers responded they like: Amazon, Target, Starbucks, Dunkin’ + The Dollar Tree

Virtual Art Show Recap

Thanks to everyone who virtually visited the Artome Art Show. The art was amazing and
your support is appreciated! Thanks to our STEM art teachers for all their hard work organizing
such a lovely art show.

Hey STEM Students!

Want to be featured in our next newsletter’s “Get to Know” section?  Tell us about yourself and we could feature you!! Email your responses to us at

Tell us about you (pick one category; include your name + grade + photo of yourself):

(6) things people don’t know about you;

(6) surprising things you carry around in your backpack;

(6) things that make you laugh out loud.

STEM Parents: Let's stay connected and STAY STRONG!
Fill out our fast FAMILY form and we will feature you
in an upcoming newsletter.
Check out the STEM teachers and families we featured in the November STEM STRONG Newsletter. And now, let's meet some more families and a few STEM teachers!

Meet the Piechocinski/Kujath 

Matt, Amber (FOS Vice President), Miriam (2nd grade), Oliver (kindergarten), Reece + Flash (mascot)
Q: What is your favorite vacation? 
A: Annual trip to St. Petersburg, Florida.  

Q: What is your favorite family tradition?
A: Going to the Walnut Room and to see Santa on Thanksgiving weekend. 

Q: Is there a song that could be a theme song for your family?
A: Life is a Highway (the Tom Cochran Version for Mom & Dad and the awful version from Cars for the kids).

Q:  If someone featured your family in their own TV show, what would be the title?
A:  The P-K Storm.

Q:  What is the weirdest thing in your home?
A:  A flamenco dancer statue with a COVID-19 Mask drawn on her face.

Q:  If your pet could talk, what would he/she say? (Be sure and tell us what your pet is).
A:  Flash the Greyhound asks, "Can you believe Reece peed by the door last night?  You should really get a handle on that kid!"

Meet 2nd Grade Teacher Ms. Storey:

Q:  What is your proudest accomplishment? 
A:  Having my daughter, McKenna! She is about to turn two years old and she is such a joy to spend every day with!

Q:  Which would you rather do: wash dishes, fold laundry, clean the bathroom, or vacuum your home? 
A:  I would do all of them! I like to clean and do chores, there's just never enough time to get them all done.

Q:  What is your favorite holiday? 
A:  Thanksgiving because I love eating and watching football!

Q:  At which board game are you amazing? 
A:  Clue! I love to use the process of elimination to figure out the mystery!

Meet Science Teacher,
Ms. Davis:

Q:  What is your proudest accomplishment?
A:  Recently I adopted a dog.  Her name is Cleo and I just love her so much.  She has made the year 2020 a lot better!  I've wanted a dog for a while now, but always thought it would be too much work living in an apartment and not having a backyard.  Once I saw Cleo's picture though, I couldn’t let her go anywhere else.  I never worked so quickly at something than getting her home with me :o) 

Q:  Which would you rather do: wash dishes, fold laundry, clean the bathroom, or vacuum your home?
A:  Vacuuming is the most satisfying.  You get a real sense of clean as well as a good workout!  

Q:  What is your favorite zoo animal and why?
A:  Elephants.  Their size is so fascinating and they are really quite cute!

Q:  What is your favorite holiday?
A:  Christmas.  Not because of gifts, but having my family all together is a lot of fun.  Also, my stepmom makes an amazing breakfast for all of us - that's really my favorite part!

Q: Has anyone in your family ever met anyone famous?
A:  Patty met Hillary Clinton.

Q: Is there a song that could be a theme song for your family?
A: “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen.

Meet Middle School teacher Mrs. Jean 

Q:  What is the best gift you have ever been given?  
A:  The best gift I've been given was a commissioned painting of my favorite animal, a squirrel.

Q:  At which board game are you amazing?  
A:  I love playing Scattergories and am quite skilled at it! 

Q:  What is your favorite holiday?  
A:  JUNETEENTH!!!! I started celebrating Juneteenth in my adult life. It's a wonderful time to get together with loved ones and honor our ancestors who were enslaved and freed on June 19, 1865.

Q:  What would you sing at a karaoke night?  
A:  Karaoke night means that I belt out any and every Beyonce song!!!

Meet 3rd Grade Teacher Ms. Davidson 

Q:  Which would you rather do: wash dishes, fold laundry, clean the bathroom, or vacuum your home?  
A: I would rather fold laundry! I love the smell of fresh laundry. Dishes are my least favorite chore! I'm very grateful for my dishwasher!

Q:  What makes you laugh the most?  
A:  I hate to admit this, but Tik Tok makes me laugh quite often! 

Q:  What is the best gift you have ever given?  
A:  When I was 19, I noticed my mom was working really hard and needed a serious break. So I saved my money to buy her a plane ticket and some extra spending money so she could visit my aunt in Atlanta. I told her the day before she was supposed to leave. I even called her boss to make sure she could take the time off with pay and without having to worry!

 M U S I C 
“Music does bring people together.  It allows us to experience the same emotions.  People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit.  No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.” - John Denver
#STEMStrong: Share with us what music means to you.
What would the holidays be without music?  No matter what you celebrate, does music play a part?  Here are some classics that we hope help set the tone for a happy holiday season.

Happy Kwanzaa - Teddy Pendergrass (listen: )

Ringing of the Bells - Muppets (listen:

Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas Song (listen:

Joy To The World Muppets (listen: )
Think before you speak.  Read before you think.
- Fran Lebowitz

One Book, One STEM - Let’s read a book together!

Thanks to everyone who read “The Hundred Dresses” in November or joined us for our Bedtime Story Hour, where we read it together.  We hoped you enjoyed hearing about Peggy and Maddie and the important lessons they learned from their classmate, Wanda Petronski, her hundred dresses, and how bullying can make you feel as horrible as the person being bullied.

For December, Let's Read: 
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a 1976 novel by Mildred D. Taylor, sequel to her 1975 novella Song of the Trees. It is a book about racism in America during the Great Depression and Jim Crow era. Did you know you could check out eBooks through the Chicago Public Library? You need the Overdrive or Hoopla app, and a library card and then you can read til your heart is content! Find out more here >>
#STEMStrong: After reading the book, tell us what you thought!
“All art requires courage.”  -  Anne Tucker
Brief + Amazing Artist Spotlight
Submitted by 6th grader Salma B.

Frida Kahlo was a well-known Mexican artist that lived in Coyoacan, Mexico.  Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, and unfortunately died on July 13, 1954.  Frida Kahlo had a rough life; she first had a bus accident on September 17, 1925, when she was 18.  The bus accident caused a broken spinal cord, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, and 11 fractures in her right leg.  When Kahlo was recovering she was recovering at home.  She was in a full body cast and was laying flat on her bed.  Her dad put a mirror above her and she started painting self portraits.  Her paintings described her feelings of pain, anger, frustration, and her identity.  Frida’s paintings are extremely bold, colorful, dark, and simply amazing.  The thing that makes me sad is that her paintings became famous after her death.

Frida Kahlos are found all over the world.  My mom is obsessed with Frida Kahlo.  My first Halloween she dressed me up like her.  I choose Frida Kahlo to write about because she really speaks to me in her paintings.  I really can feel or tell how she felt in that very moment, which is the most powerful thing you have to do when you’re an artist.  One day I hope I can go visit her blue house in Coyoacan, Mexico.

Art is all around us!

Have you ever happened upon something amazing that made you stop in your tracks and stare?  Have you ever turned a corner and almost walked into a piece of art that made you gasp?  Or maybe you have been minding your own business and something came into your orbit and just made you feel a sense of calm or made your heart beat faster?  Art can do any of those things and more.  And it is everywhere. Share with us something you’ve discovered in your world that made you appreciate its artfulness.
#STEMStrong: Tell us about unexpected art you've found!
A Wall in West Town.
Submitted by Nicole D.
What is your favorite piece of public art in Chicago? Why?
The John Hancock Building

Architecture is art.  Looking up at this iconic building, you can see how sculptural the building is.

Submitted by Nicole D.

#STEMStrong: What is YOUR Favorite public art in Chicago?

As we look forward to a new year, a new president and hopefully an end to COVID, we at Friends of STEM are looking to spread hope around like confetti!  And we need your help…

  • Join us for any (or all) of the zoom calls FOS will host over the holiday break.  We will show you some ideas for fun art projects you can make that promote HOPE.
  • After you complete your awesome project, share either a photo of yourself with it or a 30 second (maximum) video of yourself with it, telling us why you have hope or what you are hoping for in 2021.
  • FOS will piece together all the submitted projects in a short film that we will share with our STEM community.

Material Lists (scissors, tape + glue for everyday):

 Monday: cardboard or sheets of packing styrofoam or twigs or popsicle sticks + colorful yarn.

Tuesday: cardboard or paper plate or a circle form, colorful strings, yarns or ribbons + things to hang from dreamcatcher like feathers, beads, shapes, etc.

Wednesday: bubble wrap, acrylic paints + brushes + sheet of construction paper (black, blue or     white).

Thursday: collection of twigs or sticks + string.

Friday: cardboard egg crates, paints + colorful string.
Do you have a favorite quote or poem that made you think differently?

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”                  

– Henry David Thoreau

“If you can walk one mile, you can walk two miles.”

“It is not your abilities that define you; it is your choices.”

– Albus Dumbledore

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank people will try to cheat you: Be honest anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight: Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you: Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow: Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”

– Mother Teresa

  • Who do you think is an important famous figure and why? 

  • Who do you look up to and why?

Email us with yours!  Don’t forget to include your name, your grade.

FOS Reader Leader Bookworm Club

  • Do you love reading and talking about the books with others?

  • Propose a book and FOS will organize a virtual discussion group.

  • Join the FOS book club by emailing: and let us know your name and homeroom class and we'll help you get a book club organized.
#STEMStrong: I'm interested in BOOK CLUB

FOS Classic Movie Club

#STEMStrong: I'm interested in MOVIE CLUB

COOKING CLUB: Do you like spending time in the kitchen?  Does learning how to make a new delicious treat sound fun?  Let’s get cooking! Kids, grab an adult, head to the kitchen, and try your skills at FOS’ Cooking Challenge.

December’s Cooking Challenge: Oreo Balls
Share your photos and reviews of this month’s cooking challenge with FOS through the Cooking Club link below.
Do you have a recipe suggestion for next month’s newsletter cooking challenge?  Please share it through the Cooking Club link below. Or simply email us at
#STEMStrong: I'm interested in COOKING CLUB
Hey STEM community! Have you ever looked at a park in your neighborhood and thought, “I wish there wasn’t so much garbage in that park”? Or have you seen a wall full of graffiti and thought, “I wish that would get painted”? FOS is looking for ways we can make our city better.
#STEMStrong: Suggest a service project
Helping Families In Need
Submitted by Kyra Jones
My daughter, Trinity Hilson, who is Ms. Carani’s first grade class, is turning 7 on December 13th. For her birthday, she decided that she wanted to collect items for those who are less fortunate and donate the items to Earth’s Remedies who will then distribute to families who are in need on the West Side of Chicago. Trinity and I made an Amazon wishlist and family, friends, and people on social media have been purchasing items for her cause. We will send an updated picture this coming Tuesday with all of the donations.
Way to go Trinity! Thanks for helping others during the holidays. Giving is the best gift of all! Stay #STEMSTRONG

We'd love to find out how you are serving your community too. Or suggest a project you'd like to organize. We're here to share and help. Email:
Do you have something you’d like to share with the STEM community? We’d love to hear from you. Email Us Your Thoughts for next month’s newsletter.
#STEMStrong: Share your gratitude attitude!


Friends of STEM is looking for a couple more parents as well as student and teacher representatives to join our board.  We meet once a month to discuss ways we can contribute to STEM through fund-raising and community-building.  We organize and run events that bring us together and make us STEM Strong.

Next FOS Board Meeting: January 14th

Join us at 6:00pm on the second Thursday of each month via Zoom.

Meeting ID: 960 9022 2100
Passcode: 556380

Meeting agendas and minutes are always posted on our website:

Copyright © 2020 Friends of STEM, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp