Non-formal educators bring STEM outside the classrooms


Governor Branstad’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program or STEM, has proven to be a success in many schools.

But it’s not just within the walls of schools where children can benefit from STEM.

That’s why a group of non-formal educators are meeting today to train on new STEM programs.

Gayle and Caroll are both what you’d call non-formal educators.

Gayle works as a liaison between Charles City Schools and parents who home school their kids, and Caroll is with Hancock County Extension and works with 4-H kids.

They’re both here to learn about the stem program so they can implement it into “It’s such an important part of what children are learning and the hands on activities are so neat,” says Caroll Opp.

And they’re fun for the educators to learn as well and then share with the students and parents they work with.

“So it’s a physical science concept and they’re able to do some literacy connections they’re reading about it, writing about it there’s also mathematical connections in the graphing and analysis of the data they do,  a lot of data connection,” says Lynne Campbell, a STEM Hub Manager.

As with students, much of learning for these educators is trial and error.

“It’s so important because sometimes these kids aren’t exposed to what the kids in school have, they don’t necessarily have the resources or curriculum that public school kids do so it’s a way to bring this into the homes,” says Gayle Opp.

The goal of the training is to increase stem awareness across the state by partnering with these non-formal educators and that includes librarians.

“This is something brand new, we hope they can be checked out, if not they’re always free to come to our library and do them there if they want to,” says Lake Mills Children’s Librarian, Dwight Angel.

“I think non-formals are a fantastic way of extending those learning opportunities for our students,” adds Campbell.

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