Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programming is ramping up in southwest Minnesota.
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Science in schools have come a long way from vinegar and baking soda volcanoes and overhead projections of mitosis. Just last week, the Clarkfield Area Charter School students participated in the pilot program of Go-STEM, including such experiences as constructing alkaseltzer rockets, miniature motorized cars and even a hovercraft.
While the focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has been around for several years, programming is ramping up in southwest Minnesota.
4H Program Coordinators in the area, including Alicia Webb representing Yellow Medicine County, went to the U of M Extension office in Worthington to witness the experiments designed for the kids.
“They asked if we wanted to bring them to the schools in the counties, and I was totally on board,” Webb said.
After Nikki Linschield, a 3-5 grade teacher at CACS, emailed Webb asking about science activities, a partnership was born, leading the CACS to be selected as a pilot school.
“I knew when I was done with the workshop, it would be a good match,” Webb said.
STEM programing began at the University of Iowa when professors connected with math teachers in the grade schools in Sibley, Iowa. For years, the professors and teachers held camps on Saturdays, with the intention of providing an increase of science and mathematical learning through hands-on experiences.
As the interest and grant funding grew, so did the various types of programming that developed. Go STEM was just one of the programs that grew out of the Iowa partnership, including Chem-STEM, Nature-STEM and a new program this summer that will focus on flight.
The goal for the future is for four different STEM camps in the region based on feedback from the volunteers that helped in the schools, as well as availability for grant funding.
“They want to be able to expand it into other schools so that they can show that they are reaching more kids to get bigger grants,” Webb said. “I am planning on doing them in Yellow Medicine County.”