Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Oh My!

STEM comes alive at the YMCA before and afterschool programs. STEM is a term used to refer to the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Thanks to a generous grant from the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation, the Y has new STEM kits to enhance curriculum, bringing more hands on and minds on activities into the classroom.

The class gathers around as Cristina Marcelino-Ahlstrand, Site Director at YMCA Woodside explains their STEM lesson for the day. With visual aid in hand, she tells them all the about the Straw Structure Challenge. She breaks it down for them in a few steps.

  1. Think of what you would like to make today using straws and clay.
  2. Draw your idea on a piece of paper
  3. Gather your materials
  4. Build a model of your design using straws and clay
  5. Share what you made with the class

Building something with straws and clay sounds like lots of fun, but it is also deeply rooted with concepts that challenges them to develop critical thinking skills. Students are asked to take their ideas and draw it, turning it two dimensional. Then they must develop it further into a 3D model. “These lessons are designed to plant the “seed of interest” to become engineers, scientist, and innovators” said Cristina.

The students draw their designs and check in with Cristina before moving on to gather materials and start building. She reminds them to look at what they drew and use it as a guide for what they are making. She works with them one on one asking them questions about their work. Engaging with them to have the students explain their thought process.

One by one the students wrap up their work and clean up their stations in preparation for the presentations. Cristina gathers the class on the rug this time and emcees the show. She calls the students one by one to share their STEM Straw Structures with the class. They turned their ideas into designs and developed them into 3d models. The class oohs and aahs and the lesson ends with a round of applause.

YMCA Newsletter Before and After School Program February 2017 STEM