On Friday, May 27th at 9:00 am, Westar will celebrate the winner of the Westar wind car race and the unique collaboration between Westar and Big Brothers Big Sisters. This impactful collaboration piloted 10 students from Williams Fine Arts and Science Magnet School through a two year STEM curriculum that sought to instill in students a sense of excitement about learning more about the STEM fields. Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently cultivating relationships with other corporate leaders in the Topeka area that will emulate the effective outcomes of the Westar Corporate Bigs model. We look forward to future collaborations with the 501 school district and our corporate partners. For two weeks in March, Littles from the Big Brothers Big Sisters serving Shawnee County worked with their Westar Bigs to build a wind-powered car using only their imaginations and a few limited materials. A giant fan was plugged in, wind cars were cued up, and Littles were ready to race. Lily Windsor and 8 other Westar Littles competed to see whose car would travel the farthest using a giant fan as a propeller. Lilly’s unique double-sail construction cruised clear across the room, earning her $500.00 towards a 529 account with the State Treasurer. Her smile said it all! "As the administrator of the Kansas Learning Quest 529 Program, I'm glad to have been able to partner with Westar in this initiative," said State Treasurer Ron Estes. "The Wind Car Project not only provided students an opportunity to be creative and practice problem-solving, it fostered a greater excitement for learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics."
Jerl Banning, VP of Operations and Administration at Westar Energy was instrumental in forging the partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters, Westar and Topeka Public Schools. He spoke to the importance of the program and its role in exposing kids to science and technology. “At Westar, we are keenly aware that STEM careers are in high demand. Through this partnership Littles are able to come to Westar and meet with their Bigs once a week. We hope that as Littles walk through our doors and engage with their Bigs they are able to formulate both deep nurturing relationships and a vision of what they can aspire to in the future. Through the wind car project we were able to expose Littles to STEM experiences and plant a seed towards their future education plans with a 529 account. We are proud of Lilly Windsor and her excellent work with her big, Treva Burgen."