Lincoln Elementary fourth-grader Braydon Clough cannot wait to get started with his engineering career. He said he likes to take every STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) opportunity he can and lucky for him it just got a whole lot easier.
New this January, The Washington County Extension and 4-H has introduced two new after-school STEM clubs for all third-through-fifth- grade students at Lincoln Elementary. The first is “Here Comes the Sun” which teaches students about energy-efficiency and the second is “Robots on parade” which allows students the chance to learn coding and basic programming.
Washington County Extension 4-H coordinator Amy Green said STEM is something kids are becoming more and more interested in and because 4-H is something she wants kids to stay interested in, merging them together just made sense.
While they are learning about ways to use their new engineering skills, they are also learning teamwork. All activities are done in groups to encourage the students to work together and see one another’s perspective.
“Each STEM club has an ongoing challenge that they learn bits and pieces about the whole time and it’s their goal to be able to solve the problem,” she said, explaining what the students do in each session. “(Teamwork) is the way of the world. There’s very few things where they are isolated independently and we want them to know that a good practice to get better is to work with other people.”
Green said several local businesses have stepped up to sponsor the clubs which helps make it possible for the students to explore new sides to science such as engineering.
“They want to be growing the future generation of engineers for their own business,” she said. “They have an invested interest in caring about the kids and getting them some of this extra exposure.”
Liz Goodwin teaches second grade at Stewart Elementary and is volunteering to lead the “Here Comes the Sun” workshop. Goodwin said she works with STEM in her own classroom and has volunteered to lead the clubs in the past because she believes these are areas where children succeed and are interested in.
“Anything hands-on we can tie it to the science standards and actually get them making things,” she said. “It’s really just typical things that they will use in their future if that’s the career they decide to go into.”