Arizona Technology & Innovation: STEM club

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Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary School in Chandler is getting kids interested in learning about math and science in an afternoon STEM club. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. The school is taking part in the 21st Century Learning Centers. That’s a program approved by Congress that provides support for learning opportunities outside school hours. Hartford Sylvia Encinas teacher Eileen Carey will tell us more how the science club is helping kids learn.

Ted Simons: One of the problems often cited with American education is that we are behind in science and math. An after-school program at a Chandler elementary school is aimed at helping younger students in those areas. I'll talk to a teacher from the school about the program in our continuing coverage of Arizona's high-tech issues. But first, Mike Sauceda tells us more about the school's stem program.

Kid: Then put it on the food color.

Mike Sauceda: Mixing milk with food coloring and soap is one way kids at the Hartford Sylvia Encinas in Chandler are learning science. Will it's part of an after-school program called stem which stand for science, technology, engineering, and math. Parents got to see the work at a stem family work. Volunteers from companies such as Intel provide instruction to the students. It's a program kids enjoy, and they say helps them learn science and math.

Skanda Thirmoorthy: It's fun, it's -- it explains complex thoughts into simple ways, like surface tension, and how to make movies. Which is kind of hard to explain in your brain.

Anthony Michael Brody: It helps you for tests, lots of tests. Like such as the benchmark, AIMS, math.

Saas Mantri: I like that we have many activities to do -- we can do the chemicals, we understand more, and then we can use that thinking in our tests also.

Mike Sauceda: Parents like the program too.

Michelle Marban: I know there's all the educational channels that they watch, but having something that is hands-on and where they can learn to set school as part of their education, it would make it more fun.

Marcie Thomas: I think they get out ways to think outside the box, with the race car building your own little race car. I think it gives them a chance to explore their own innovative ideas and to kind of improvise with the materials that they're given with what they have at hand.

Ted Simons: Here now to talk about the stem program is Eileen Carey, she's a teacher at Hartford Sylvia Encinas Elementary School in Chandler. Correct?

Eileen Carey: Correct.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Eileen Carey: Thank you.

Ted Simons: The goal of this particular program, we know what it stands for, stem stands for, science, engineering, engineering, and math. What's the goal of this program?

Eileen Carey: Overall the goal is increase inquiry. Through our children to inquire about life as a real media. It's not a matter of just learning the math facts, it's a matter of applying them in real life.

Ted Simons: Is that the kind of thing that's developing, you are learn can along the way these particular programs or these activities are our better or it is pretty well defined as it is?

Eileen Carey: No. Stem has been around for quite a while. The acronym is new. We do more of these programs at the intermediate level and the high schools, very little is done at the elementary school. And we are fortunate to have a Mac lab and a PC lab, so our children are learning in two different mediums and we're doing this after-school, before-school. So the kids are on campus until 7:15 in the morning until 5:00. It's just a wonderful opportunity to -- for them to be involved in their own education.

Ted Simons: Why aren't we seeing more of these in element schools?

Eileen Carey: Cost. It does cost a lot to have highly qualified teachers that are willing to take beyond the school day and go into planning their own lessons, submitting them, and then getting all the materials required.

Ted Simons: This is part of something called the 21st century learning center. What is that?

Eileen Carey: That is our after-school program and before-school program,is a state funded program. And you have to apply for it, so this year we have a grant for five years, this is our second year in the grant. And each year after next year it goes down a percentage, and at the fifth year we have to reapply.

Ted Simons: OK. Talk to us more about funding here, as far as grants. Are there federal and state grants, are there grants from other areas as well?

Eileen Carey: Correct. It's a matter of applying for the grant you must be a school in need, a title one school, which we are. And we had to show that there was a need, and how each of these programs that we're running after school beyond the tutoring, because we do tutoring in math and reading and a morning music program, and we also do our stem programs that include gardening and recycling and our husky productions that does all the media part, that was so exciting for them to come visit here at the studio. So much of what our programs provide for the children aren't funded in a regular school day. We don't have enough hours in the day to do this. This is an opportunity. But 120,000 for the first three years, 90,000 and it goes down to 80,000, and then we get nothing unless we reapply, and we make it.

Ted Simons: And it sounds like you'll make it considering the way you've achieved so far. Talk are some of these achievements. Talk about some of the activities. We saw some of the kids working on things, building a race car, these sorts of things. At the elementary school level, how do you make sure you're not throwing too much at them?

Eileen Carey: At the evening last night, our purpose for that was so that our parents could see what the children are doing before and after school. This -- each of the stem activities that we did, we did two science, ones with paint and the milk, and the oobleck. And then we did the engineering which was making the puff mobile and the math, and the technology part was in our Mac lab, and that was -- I didn't think you saw that one, but that was making a digital pizza. So it was so cool to see the kids and the parents involved in those activities. At a higher level.

Ted Simons: What -- this is a club, correct?

Eileen Carey: Yes.

Ted Simons: I'm assuming that there are some kids, more kids are applying than can get in. How do you figure who gets in?

Eileen Carey: We have to narrow it down. One thing is attendance, behavior, they have to have some type of academic need or social need. So our Husky productions students are often the shiest of kids that make normally -- may normally not get out there. Behind the camera they're fantastic. They do their media, and they put it all together, garage band programs, and they made C.D.s, they get in, they do a lot of writing and researching. It's kids that normally wouldn't be doing this unless they're given the opportunity.

Ted Simons: Are you seeing a correlation between what these kids are doing and how they're succeeding in the club and what you're seeing on grades and report cards?

Eileen Carey: Yeah. It was absolutely fantastic when one of the teachers was giving a science demonstration and the child had already known the answer. How did you know that? And he said, 21st century. I did this already. I know what happens. And the beauty of it was, it didn't always turn out that way. So when our children do the programs and do the different activities that -- we encourage them not to anticipate what's going to happen because it happened before, but to change a variable and tell us about what happened.

Ted Simons: Wow. Last question, are you hearing much from the education community, from the business community? What kind of response are you getting if any?

Eileen Carey: We applied for a grant last year through APS, and we saved $1600 in which we purchased some kits. STEM is out there everywhere. It's the new buzzword. And all you have to do is apply for the grants. They're there. It's a matter of how can you apply. We're fortunate to have our iMac lab that lets us do so much more than what we could do if we didn't.

Ted Simons: You're doing great work out there. Thank you so much for joining us.

Eileen Carey: Thank you, Ted, appreciate it.

Eileen Carey: Hartford Sylvia Encinas teacher;

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