Students in a third-grade class at Holy Spirit taught by Jodi Ludwig compare and contrast characters from a story on their “imagination tables.” Kuemper schools recently received $33,000 worth of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning tools from the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.
Students in a third-grade class at Holy Spirit taught by Jodi Ludwig compare and contrast characters from a story on their “imagination tables.” Kuemper schools recently received $33,000 worth of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning tools from the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

April 14, 2016

From blackboards and chalk to Sphero robots, marble roller coasters and pipe-cleaner towers, science education has come a long way over the last 20 years.

Kuemper Catholic hopes to continue that trend with the help of more than $33,000 worth of STEM Scale-Up program awards to help students prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering and math in the 21st century.

Kuemper was one of 11 schools chosen by the STEM Council to be offered on the 2016-17 STEM Scale-Up Program menu to provide high-quality STEM-education offerings to schools, after-school programs and other settings for all grade levels.

The awards, which mostly come in the form of materials and professional development, were given by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council after several elementary and middle school teachers applied for the 2016-17 Scale-Up program.

Mary Trent, Northwest STEM Advisory Council Board co-chair, said the awards help students learn with a hands-on approach about a variety of fields.

“These programs range from building robots and coding programs to conducting agricultural field experiences and learning about STEM careers,” Trent said.

Through the Scale-Up program, Kuemper was awarded four Maker Space Carts, Engineering Is Elementary kits and a Hyperstream Robotics award.  

The school will also be hosting a STEM summer camp for grades K-8 this summer. Kindergarten through second-grade students will be doing STEM activities relating to folktales and fairy tales. Third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will be solving a mystery of a vandalized wall, and middle-schoolers will be programing Sphero robots and learning other programing software.

Trent has also been gathering materials and creating STEM kits for students from preschool through eighth grade. These kits are aligned with Iowa Core Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. These kits contain such materials as marble roller coasters, 3-D structures, pipe cleaner towers and building circuits. Breakout kits have also been implemented into the classrooms. A breakout kit allows students to work together to solve problems and by getting clues to the next problem-solving activity until they “break out” or open the final container with the culminating activity.

Parents of Kuemper students can learn more about the Scale-Up program and register for summer camp on the Kuemper website.