NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Butterfield Trail Middle School in Van Buren is one of 43 Arkansas schools across Garver engineering firm's 11-state footprint selected by its employees to receive a donation from the local firm. 

Donations of a Chain Reaction STEM kits, as well as monetary donations, were awarded through corporate-giving arm GarverGives. 

To celebrate a century of innovative engineering services, local firm Garver is teaming with schools from across the country to advance the type of critical and creative thinking first displayed when founder Neal Garver opened his one-person firm in 1919 in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

Schools are encouraged to use the kits to create Rube Goldberg-style chain reaction contraptions for the Garver Chain Reaction Challenge.

Through this interactive activity, students will gain a better understanding of STEM concepts, the engineering design process, critical thinking skills, and the importance of perseverance — all while having fun along the way.

“By teaming with these schools, we’re celebrating a century of doing business by giving back to the communities that have helped us reach this point,” said Garver Chief Executive Officer Dan Williams. “Our hope is that providing hands-on STEM education opportunities like these will help develop the core concepts necessary to cultivate the next generation of engineers.”

The kits come complete with items such as KEVA planks and Brackitz connectors to build 3-D structures, a DC motor, balls, ramps, and a slew of whimsical everyday items to create contraptions limited only by their imaginations.

“When we think of STEM, we often envision high-tech applications," Williams said. "But with the Chain Reaction Challenge, we’re intentionally asking students to use very low-tech items to engineer simple machines that work together.”

He added, “The exercise teaches physics principles like kinetic energy, gravity and force, while also promoting creativity and problem-solving skills.”

Schools will also have an opportunity to win an additional $1,000 by sharing a video of their contraption for the Garver Chain Reaction Challenge, judged by Garver engineers.