Iowa Educators Combine STEM and Literacy Skills
In an initiative funded by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and their Scale Up Program to enhance the STEM skills of Iowa students, Iowa educators may apply for grants to purchase Storytime STEM-Packs for their classes and libraries. Terrapin partnered with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, creators of the Storytime STEM-Packs, to include Bee-Bots in the packs which are targeted to Pre-K to second grade students.
Storytime STEM-packs are designed to connect children’s literature to STEM concepts and simultaneously develop STEM and literacy skills. This empowers educators of young children, who often have little prior STEM training, to successfully incorporate age-appropriate STEM concepts into their lessons. Each Storytime STEM-Pack is built around a popular children’s book and includes everything needed to facilitate engaging, hands-on STEM activities for 24 children based on the story in the book and a facilitator guide that makes connecting the story to the STEM activity easy. Using the storybook as context, Storytime STEM-packs present children with a phenomenon or problem. Through engagement in the practice standards for science, engineering, or mathematics, and the use of a crosscutting concept, they collaboratively explain the phenomenon or solve the problem, thereby making sense of the STEM concept. The facilitation guide offers suggestions for open-ended questions to elicit children’s thinking and promote discussion.
Storytime STEM-packs began with a 2013 request to provide STEM professional learning for children’s librarians. Librarians liked connecting the NGSS/CCSS standards to their informal context and engaging in adult learning that modeled inquiry-based instruction and engineering design. However, they shared that they have a limited time frame to conduct STEM activities in the library, need the activities to be connected to children’s literature, and that each “activity” must stand on its own. Responding to these needs, the facilitation materials are purposefully short, while providing enough information to successfully implement age-appropriate STEM learning activities. Storytime STEM-packs also include all needed hands-on and print materials, making them easy to use with minimal preparation time. Head Start and classroom teacher interviews found these features make STEM-packs uniquely suited for their context also. New Storytime STEM-packs and Adventures have been added annually, most recently integrating computational thinking using unplugged activities and Bee-Bot robots on the colorful, story themed mission mats.
|Science Coordinator, Math & Science Collaborative
|Allegheny Intermediate Unit
|Bee-Bot, STEM, Pennsylvania, Iowa