Teaching Head Start Students About STEM
A three-day summer camp in Jerome this June is designed to motivate 3- to 5-year-old Head Start students to get excited about science, math and technology.
Jerome is one of three Idaho communities in which U-Idaho’s science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, Education Research Initiative is launching innovative programs to elevate STEM education by focusing on students, parents and schools.
The programs are part of a five-year project funded by a $1.2 million Micron Foundation gift.
“The goal is to grab their attention while the children are very young,” said Anibel Alcocer, a modern languages and cultures lecturer at U-Idaho. “We’re trying to involve parents in the summer camp. It’s going to be for the children, but also, we’re going to give activities for them to do with their parents.”
Alcocer is working with Jackie Maximillian, a U-Idaho postdoctoral fellow in environmental science, and Irina Kappler-Crookston, chair of U-Idaho’s modern languages and cultures department.
The bilingual summer camp is offered during June and seeks to integrate STEM into the Jerome school system through camp activities for children, teachers and parents.
A STEM Initiative survey found 43 percent of parents statewide felt their math and science abilities make it difficult to assist their children with homework. In Jerome County, 71 percent of parents indicated such.
“We want to give the children things to take home to share with their parents,” said Melinda Hamilton, U-Idaho Director of STEM Education Initiatives. “We are excited about sharing resources with Jerome to create the bilingual program because the area has one of Idaho’s largest Latino populations.”
Each day of the camp will feature a different theme.
“We’re going to try and show the children how to measure things with other things, like for example, their feet,” Alcocer said. “How many feet are you?”
An online application called Henry the Hand will show the children how important it is to wash their hands and how bacteria gets on their hands. They will also learn how science works by using colors and making groups.
Each day, parents will leave their children at the Jerome Head Start for four hours of activities, lunch and snacks. Parents will pick up their children, as well as take home activities.
“We hope to get parents and their children more interested in science,” Alcocer said. “We want to support parents’ goals to ensure their children are successful early in school. We also want to give parents opportunities to engage a little more in the science.”