STEAM after school program launched

July 13, 2017


Francis Reaves, a junior special education major, helps a student build a dinosaur wash machine as part of the PIPES STEAM program. – Photo by Danny Do

News Editor | kjk019@ latech.edu


Egg cartons, plastic containers, and other recycled and repurposed materials were constructed into “pet washes” by third through fifth graders during the PIPES Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) After School Academy in Woodard Hall.


The project was employed to help encourage inquiry-based, hands-on science as some A.E. Phillips students learned about water conservation. The goal for the students was to create a design which was able to effectively wash off “Dino the Dinosaur,” a blue model dinosaur, all while conserving as much water as possible.


Julie Holmes, director of the after school program, said the intention of the six-week pilot program was to provide an opportunity to encourage further learning in science for elementary students and to allow Louisiana Tech teacher candidates to interact with elementary students while teaching science.


“It’s been a pretty amazing six weeks,” she said. “It’s very interesting to see how the children process the different activities that we have asked them to do. My teacher candidates worked with the curriculum, but they were also encouraged to add and be creative with it, and some of them have come up with some very interesting ideas to add to the content. I’m really proud of them, they’ve worked really hard with working with the children and really getting to know them. I think we’re all going to be a little sad on Wednesday when we have our final presentations and everything is finished and done.”


Holmes said the pilot program was conducted with hopes of expanding the program in the future.


“We’re hoping to open it parish-wide to third through fifth graders next year,” she said.


Bryan McCoy,  department chair for curriculum, instruction, and leadership in the College of Education, said the program had two goals.


“One (goal) was to provide a place where our teacher candidates could have full control of the curriculum and learn how to impart inquiry-based science,” he said.


McCoy said the other initiative was to provide additional science-based learning opportunities for elementary-age students beyond what they received in a classroom.


Abigail Hagerhjelm, a junior elementary education major, said the program allowed her to better understand how children approach science.


“I’ve learned a lot about kids and how they learn science and just that it has got to be hands-on,” she said. “They have to see it and do it in order to better retain information.”


Hagerhjelm said participating in the program gave her and her peers a chance to learn how to support elementary students as they delved deeper into science.


“I think it’s given us an understanding of how to teach science in an effective way,” she said. “It’s a lot more than just looking at an experiment and saying, ‘This is how this happens, the end.’ It’s letting them go exploring and just figuring things out on their own, so it’s good practice for us to see how much help is too much help, and when to back off and when to support them.”



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