Young children discover STEM during pandemic

Extension provides resources to families for STEM activities at home

Boy placing toy dinosaurs and fossils on a shelf labeled fossils

Diego, 5, sets up the fossils exhibit of his dinosaurs museum at home. The museum at home project was one offered by Extension’s Let’s Discover STEM Program. Photo by Atzimba Bravo.

Young children discover STEM during pandemic

Extension provides resources to families for STEM activities at home

Diego, 5, sets up the fossils exhibit of his dinosaurs museum at home. The museum at home project was one offered by Extension’s Let’s Discover STEM Program. Photo by Atzimba Bravo.

Boy placing toy dinosaurs and fossils on a shelf labeled fossils

Diego, 5, sets up the fossils exhibit of his dinosaurs museum at home. The museum at home project was one offered by Extension’s Let’s Discover STEM Program. Photo by Atzimba Bravo.

Extension’s Let’s Discover STEM Program in Washoe and Clark Counties was ready to begin their next series of STEM sessions for families with young children. But when the shelter-in-place restrictions were implemented, the team had to rethink how to engage the families and meet their needs.

In Washoe, team members began by reaching out to prior program participants to see if they were interested in doing a STEM activity at home with their children, and if they were willing to accept provided materials.

“The response was incredible,” Lizeth Barroeta, program instructor, said. “It got us thinking that this would be totally possible.”

The team worked with interested families to select sessions and materials specific to the children’s interest – everything from dinosaurs to life science to famous works of art. Team members then dropped the materials off at the families’ doors.

One of the most commonly chosen sessions was how parents could introduce their children to museums. Families received the book, “Eric and Julieta at the Museum,” links to virtual museum tours and materials to create their own museum at home.

“Museum visits for children can provide memorable, hands-on learning experiences, provoke imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer unique quality time with family,” Barroeta said.

Atzimba Bravo and her family, including Yared, 6; Diego, 5; and Ivan, 3; did a virtual visit of a dinosaur museum, and then the brothers worked together to make a dinosaur exhibit in the living room.

Patricia Carmona and her family read some books about different famous paintings. Then, her son, Leonardo, 5, made a famous paintings “museum in a box,” complete with a working elevator.

Mariana Diaz and her family did a different STEM activity, a “rubbing leaves” project, to investigate life science. Her children, Yulian, 5; and Yesenia, 3; covered leaves with paper and then rubbed a crayon on top. The rubbings showed the leaf structure, including the leaf’s shape and veins.

“Parents and children have enthusiasm doing STEM hands-on activities,” Barroeta said. “We are frequently receiving photos and short videos of them.”

The team in Clark County began providing Zoom workshops in both English and Spanish based on Let’s Discover STEM topics, and they’ve been posting videos on YouTube of STEM activities that parents and children can easily do. The videos for both the workshops and the STEM activities can be found in the Partners in Parenting playlist on Extension’s YouTube channel. The team has also been sharing parenting information on social media.

Let’s Discover STEM in Clark County is part of Extension’s Partners in Parenting Programming, a suite of programs that offer many educational workshops and resources for parents. In Washoe County, Let’s Discover STEM focuses on providing resources for parents of children ages 0-5. For more information about Let’s Discover STEM, visit the Let’s Discover STEM Program website, email Washoe County Program Director Dan Weigel or email Clark County Program Director YaeBin Kim.

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