You mean—the bottom half of a flower? It’s green. It sits in the vase full of water. It’s connected to the dirt by the roots, right?
That isn’t quite the stem we’re talking about when we talk about the STEM Clubs at Orange Elementary in Waterloo.
But first–what is STEM?
STEM is an educationally driven program that has made ripples in the world of education. In the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—(STEM), students, parents, teachers, and the current and future job markets have been introduced and involved in the next initiative to increase knowledge and jobs around these topics. STEM has created numerous clubs nationally focused around mathematics, computer and software systems, medical science, and well as biomedical engineering—just to name a few.
And—that is where STEM Club 5 at Orange Elementary comes in.
Chris Anderson, Program Coordinator at Hartman Reserve, started his involvement with STEM Club last summer when Hartman hosted a summer camp for kids in 4th and 5th grade. Since then he has continued his participation with the club.
The two clubs at Orange, STEM 4 and STEM 5 “[are] made up of 4th graders that are working on a mock freshwater mussel reintroduction program, and STEM 5 is made up of 5th graders working on bringing sustainable infrastructure to the mythical island of Iowania,” commented Anderson.
Students are learning about the future in these areas and gaining experience based on these four topics, especially those who continue to engage in the opportunities STEM provides for outside of the “typical” school day. Each project provides a different opportunity for students to learn more about each area of STEM.
“I think the students benefit by seeing science ‘in-play’. They get to take concepts they have heard of in class, and put them to practical use. Some of the data that the kids in STEM 4 collect from water samples is actually used by the land managers for Black Hawk County Conservation Board. The kids in STEM 5 created some simple, and compound machines that they used to move 120lbs of concrete using ropes, pulleys and leverage,” stated Anderson.
“Learning by doing” would be the simple way to state what STEM Clubs at Orange is doing for students.
“I wish more people could see the kids light up when something they created works, and the determination on their faces when something does not work the way they intended, and they try to fix it. I always tell the kids it is ok to fail, it is not ok to give up” finished Anderson.
To see what the students are up to, check out the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwSRlc-KtTQ, or check out the Waterloo Schools YouTube page.