On a regular workday, Sanjeev Satturu would be making tractors that help feed the world, but on Thursday he was making slime.
Satturu, an electrical engineer at John Deere World Headquarters, Moline, was one of 1,120 volunteers participating in 80 projects throughout the Quad-Cities as part of United Way of the Quad-Cities Area's' Day of Caring event.
Satturu's task at Skip-A-Long Child Development Services, Rock Island, was to help children ages 3 to 5 learn principles of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — through four different activity stations set up by staff.
As children held plastic zip-lock bags in front of them, Satturu doled out the ingredients of water, white glue and borax, asking the children to count along, thereby teaching the importance of correct measurements in science.
Then the bags were zipped shut and the children were invited to mix the ingredients together by squeezing until it became slime. "If it's not firm enough, we ask them what they think it needs," said Wanda Mumma, a Skip-A-Long staff member who helped design the stations.
In this way, children learn to solve problems and "it helps them discover what's happening," she said.
Shrieks resounded around the room as children at another station experimented with how many objects they could pile on a foam "boat" before it sank into a tub of water.
In addition to STEM activities, other Day of Caring projects included painting an office at the Child Abuse Council in Moline, planting flowers at the New Kingdom Trail Riders in Sherrard, Illinois, and distributing food at a mobile food pantry in Rock Island.
Also, reading to children, conducting mock job interviews and reviewing resumes with high school students, building a handicapped-accessible ramp and cleaning.
Taking up scrub mops and dust cloths at Humility of Mary Shelter, Davenport, was another crew of Deere & Co. employees, assigned to give a deep cleaning to public areas of the shelter that get 24-hour use.
The large open area of the shelter is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. as a place for people to simply hang out, and from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. it is a shelter where men can sleep, Christie Adamson, director, explained.
"It's a 24-hour truck stop and gets a lot of wear and tear," she said. "There's never a moment when nobody's in here. This floor is in desperate need of a deep cleaning."
In addition to Deere, companies and organizations participating in Day of Caring included Arconic, Exelon Corp., Ascentra Credit Union, Elanders Americas, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, Parr Instrument Co., Russell Construction, UniParts Olsen, and TBK (Triumph Bancorp). Charter members of United Way’s Women United also participated.
Projects are submitted to United Way for approval; applicants do not need to be a United Way-funded agency to apply, Jennifer Walker, vice president of brand strategy and marketing, said.
Another Day of Caring is held in the fall.
In addition to getting work done, the day offers nonprofits an opportunity to get their message out, and it brings together people who otherwise likely would not cross paths. And it's a break from making tractors.