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Adults gets hands-on STEM training

(Left) Grangeville Elementary Middle School teacher Jess Robinson uses the programmable robot by clapping commands; (Top, right, L-R) Mountain View School District 244 Librarian Lynn Johnson, Grangeville Centennial Librarian Angie Norman and homeschool parent Sheryl St. George work on a musical circuit board from the Makey Makey kit; and (bottom, right) The Makey Makey kits are compact and retail for around $50 each.

Photo by Lorie Palmer
(Left) Grangeville Elementary Middle School teacher Jess Robinson uses the programmable robot by clapping commands; (Top, right, L-R) Mountain View School District 244 Librarian Lynn Johnson, Grangeville Centennial Librarian Angie Norman and homeschool parent Sheryl St. George work on a musical circuit board from the Makey Makey kit; and (bottom, right) The Makey Makey kits are compact and retail for around $50 each.



— Robots and circuits and computers, oh my!

The Idaho STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) committee and Idaho Commission for Libraries recently provided grants for several libraries throughout the state to receive funding for both gear and training.

Mountain View School District 244 Librarian Lynn Johnson Grangeville Centennial Librarian Angie Norman attended training in Lewiston and then brought their knowledge – and a whole lot of equipment – back to share.

Last Thursday afternoon, April 6, Johnson and Norman offered a training at Grangeville Elementary Middle School for a handful of homeschool moms and teachers. They will continue these trainings throughout the year as needed. But what are these trainings for, exactly?

“We were given a lot of stuff,” smiled Johnson. “It’s exciting.”

Items include programmable robots, circuit boards, cardboard construction kits and “Makey Makeys.” The Makey Makeys kits are invention kits for the 21st century. Young and old inventors alike can turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the Internet. It’s a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.

The libraries each received 30 kits and will be checking them out to schools, parents, 4-H Clubs and more after those people involved receive the training.

Johnson will be working with Kids Klub this summer in one of its weeklong day camps to provide a technology week and Norman plans to use the kits at the city library, as well.

“I would like to use the old genealogy room as a ‘make it’ room,” she said. She hopes to offer a club for kids to learn, build, explore and create at least twice a month.

Johnson talked about the training the librarians and educators received and how failure is an important part of the learning process.

“Our training referred to it as ‘failing forward,’” she explained. “It’s not always about getting the answer right the first time and moving on. The process of working on something, failing and continuing on is very important.”

The kits help students do that in that they are open-ended and students (and adults) must work hands-on and trial and error to think, design, program, create and change for different results.

“This is definitely something my little ones can do,” said Jess Robinson, working on the simple circuit boards. She teaches kindergarten and first-grade at GEMS.

GEMS teacher Karen Wisdom used the cardboard kit tools to create a variety of shapes her fourth and fifth graders are currently studying in math, then used those three-dimensional shapes as obstacles when she programmed her robotics car.

“Sometimes it is easy for kids to get stuck on just the answer and not the process,” Wisdom said. “That process really helps with their critical thinking skills.”

Homeschool mom Rachel Foster said she does not consider herself to be up on technology in any way.

“But I want more for my girls, because this is their world and what they need to know,” she said.

Sheryl St. George, also a homeschool mom, said her husband has encouraged her to learn more about coding so she can start their children on this. She worked with the kits and experimented with the simple coding and programming for each.

“I’m glad to learn more and use this with my children,” she smiled. “I’m really glad for the opportunity.”

Those who wish to get in on training and learning more about using the kits are invited to call Johnson at 983-0400 or Norman at 983-0951.



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