Frazee Elementary sixth graders apply for scholarship

Contributed photo
Students in Chuck Wake’s sixth grade science class at Frazee Elementary were provided a virtual lesson with a former NHL player Wes Walz.

By Barbie Porter


Chuck Wake’s sixth grade science class recently spent some quality time with retired NHL star Wes Walz.

Walz played 11 seasons in the National Hockey League, including as the Minnesota Wild’s center. During his NHL career he collected 109 goals and 151 assists. 

The local students fun with the professional athlete all began when Wake  glanced through activities involving: STEM, which evolved to STEAM and is now STREAM, which are all acronyms for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math. While looking at potential curriculum, Wake chatted with one of his sons about the evolution of STREAM. He concluded the conversation, noting they will likely have advertisements show up on their mobile devices for STREAM. 

Sure enough, that prediction became reality. But, instead of a bunch of ads, he also received an e-mail from Nina Englund, an implementation specialist for EVERFI.

Wake learned EVERFI aims to bring real-world learning lessons to classrooms at no cost. The no cost claim seemed unlikely to him, but he dug deeper into the program offerings. Activities like career readiness, financial education, health and wellness, social emotional learning, cultural literacy, digital literacy and wellness, early academic readiness, sustainability education and of course, STREAM were listed. The  courses were even geared toward specific grade levels spanning from K-12.  

Wake found a class on physics that would fit in his science class curriculum. After finding value in a class offered, he dug into the company. He learned the  NHL and the National Hockey League Players’ Association partnered for the STREAM lessons, and even offered scholarship opportunities for elementary students.

Hockey was used to create interactive lessons for students that included scientific thinking, analysis of data, basic concepts of physics and more. Wake said the concepts were taught through discussion on preparing ice for the sport and temperatures needed, the potential energy a puck gains based off of the height it is dropped and much more. And, it was truly free.

Wake provided information about EVERFI to Frazee Elementary Principal Travis Nagel, and found support to pursue the learning opportunity.

“There were lessons with labs for the kids, and quizzes,” Wake said. “I used the information to make my own power points. It resulted in amazing discussions with the students.”

Out of the blue another letter appeared in Wake’s email. A gift of two NHL Wild tickets were offered, no strings attached. Wake and his son Creighton took in the game, which was fun. The opportunity to bond with his 11-year-old son was priceless.

“It was a long night though because we still had to go to school the next day,” Wake said.

EVERFI became a gift that kept giving, as Wake was then notified he was chosen for a virtual lab with an NHL player. Wake said his class could see Walz on the big screen in his classroom, but Walz could not see them. However, he could read what the students typed in the chat.

The virtual lab taught students about resting heart rate, what exercises increase their heart rate, how to do the math to determine one’s heart rate, healthy diets and how to build endurance.

“We also talked about the circulatory system, organs and other things that are discussed in biology,” Wake said.

During the mid-December virtual class, students were recognized by Walz for getting a high heart rate during the lab, as well as calculating the heart rate and posting it in the virtual chat.  

Wake took a picture of the special lab day and sent it to his EVERFI contact. She asked if the picture could potentially be used on the Wild’s team website.

“I said that was fine, so it may end up on there,” Wake said.  

A while later, another email came notifying Wake he had been nominated as EVERFI Teacher of the Month. The honor makes him eligible for EVERFI Teacher of the Year, and earned him a Wild hockey jersey.

During his research on EVERFI, Wake also learned his students could apply for a scholarship that could be as much as $5,000. The thought, that his sixth graders could already began collecting funds for post secondary education was an amazing opportunity. Students were invited to apply by writing an essay that focused on their future goals.

Regardless if a student receives a scholarship or not, Wake saw the idea of higher learning and potential to reduce costs by being studious as a great seed to plant. Of his students, four signed up and submitted essays. 

Hudson Baumgart was one of the students that applied for the scholarship. In addition to expressing his desire to go to college, the son of Mike and Denelle Baumgart, of Vergas, praised EVERFI’s lessons. He called them “engaging,” and explained the labs made learning the lessons “fun” and “easy.”

“My favorite subject is now science,” he said. “It used to be math. Mr. Wake made science my favorite class because I really enjoy all the experiments.”

Wake noted the state education board is switching sixth grade science to focus on earth science next year. His experience was so productive with EVERFI that Wake plans to work with them to help their production team try to come up with labs for the new focus.

“I’m very happy my phone listened to me and that I talked about how STEM became STEAM and is now STREAM,” Wake said. “EVERFI is in it for the right reason, and that is for the kids.”