The North Central Iowa Regional STEM Advisory Board of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council recently awarded a STEM Scale-Up Program application for Storytime STEM-packs to Northwood Preschool Center. The application was for $6,000 and was submitted by Northwood teachers Annie Boldt, Jill Spencer, and Lindsey Wirth.
In a press release, “The board reviewed many applications from teachers, administrators, and informal educators—all excited to bring exemplary STEM programs to Iowa’s students.” Northwood’s application was one of over 130 regional requests.
These kits were shared with all teachers at Northwood as tools in their classrooms. One of their first opportunities to use the STEM kits was during STEAM Week, the week of October 25-29, at Northwood. To give students the opportunity to engage in technology experiences, teachers invited students to explore Beebots, which introduce young learners to the concepts of coding.
“As a teacher, being able to get my students excited and engaged in their learning is what keeps me coming back to the classroom every year. Receiving the STEM Scale-Up Award has given us the opportunity at Northwood to invite our students into hands-on learning experiences that engage their minds in new ways and introduce concepts that will be an essential building block for future learning,” shared Spencer.
The Storytime STEM-packs are kits created with STEM concepts that are connected to the standards. They often utilize children’s literature and each kit comes with all of the materials needed to implement the learning activities with the whole class.
“In preparation for STEAM week at Northwood, teachers were introduced to the various kits we received from the grant. However, during STEAM week, our main focus from the STEM-packs was technology,” said Wirth. The teams utilized Bee Bots and theme based mats to introduce the basics of coding to our 3-5 year old students. The kids enjoyed planning Bee Bots routes, programming, and making changes if their first attempt was unsuccessful. “My students continue to ask to use the Bee Bots during center time. I am encouraged to try all of the STEM-packs we received, especially after seeing the excitement for learning this created in my students.”
“In the future, we plan to utilize many of the STEM kits to further enhance our classroom project studies,” said Boldt. “We are excited that the materials we received not only provide creative problem solving activities, but popular books to peak students’ interests. I can foresee many other project studies developing due to the activities provided from the STEM kits.”