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Bright Spots in Idaho STEM

Bright Spot: The Children's Museum

SUMMER LEARNING IN RURAL SOUTHWEST IDAHO COMMUNITIES

With a sponsorship from Idaho STEM Action Center, the Children’s Museum of Idaho developed a STEM-focused pop-up “mini museum on the move” that traveled to rural communities in Southwest Idaho during Summer 2021. For 12 weeks, the mini museum was set up and staffed by two Children’s Museum employees who are trained in early STEM. Many of the sites were where children picked up free lunches provided by the USDA/Idaho Summer Lunch Program.

The goal of this project was to bring STEM learning to children ages 4-9 that may not have the opportunity to visit the Children’s Museum of Idaho where early STEM learning is the focus of most programs. With a strong emphasis on hands-on, interactive components and manipulatives, children discovered science through the dinosaur exhibit; technology with robotics and coding critters; engineering by building with the Imagination Blocks, construction straws, discs, magna-tiles, and gears; and math using critical thinking games. Free take home supplies enhanced learning and invited children to explore STEM beyond the pop-up museum.

STEM EDUCATION IS FOR ALL AGES

Volunteers in each town assisted Children’s Museum employees. Local civic groups, schools, and community centers were contacted to ask for assistance in setting-up the pop-up museum and alerting parents and families that this resource would be in their community. Communities visited by the mini museum included Mountain Home, Weiser, Middleton, Marsing, Notus, Payette, Parma, Idaho City, Emmett, Caldwell, and Homedale. The staff was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the response the mini museum received in each community. 941 children participated in the program.

According to the Early STEM Working Group at the University of Chicago in their report, “Early STEM Matters”, “high-quality STEM experiences provide young children with opportunities to develop critical thinking, executive functioning, and problem-solving skills that cut across subject areas (within and outside of STEM disciplines) and that set the stage for how they approach learning and thinking about rich content into the future. These experiences also provide children with engaging, motivating, and relevant contexts in which to practice and learn many of the other skills they are working on, including their emerging language and literacy skills.”*

Idaho STEM Action Center advances innovative opportunities for educators, students, communities, and industry to build a competitive Idaho workforce and economy through STEM and computer science education. Children’s Museum of Idaho’s pop-up museum is one such innovative program to enhance STEM education for Idaho’s children.

*Early STEM Matters, January 2017, retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://ecstem.uchicago.edu/.

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Idaho STEM Action Center

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It's in these subjects that students learn the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration - skills that translate to success in many fields. The STEM  Action Center is here to support this development and provide Idaho with the talent pipeline it needs for its economy to thrive. Idaho can generate a strong, STEM-competent and competitive workforce that will make us become a prime STEM business destination.

TODAY’S EFFORTS.
TOMORROW’S SUCCESSES.

Industry participation is essential for success, and we’re here to help make that participation easier. We’ve created many ways for Idaho businesses to engage with STEM education. From mentoring and volunteering to donating and partnering, you can help move the economy forward by closing the gaps in Idaho’s workforce. Let us help you help Idaho!

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To learn more about the STEM Action Center’s strategies, success stories, and positive impacts in your community, email: admin@stem.idaho.gov.

Idaho STEM Action Center
802 W. Bannock St., Suite 900
Boise, Idaho 83702
208.332.1729

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