Students design activities for new STEM Discovery Center

December 3, 2014
Sara Peterson
Sammy Glowacki

PLATTEVILLE — Thirty-eight students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville School of Education’s K-4 Methods of Cognitive Development course recently designed interactive, elementary-level activities for Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin to use at its new STEM Discovery Center. The students designed activities that will interest and engage children from birth to age 11 and introduce them to the center’s first theme, forests.

Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin, located in Platteville, is a nonprofit organization that works for the betterment of children and families by providing services to families, childcare providers and local communities in and around southwestern Wisconsin. Its new STEM Discovery Center, located in the former O.E. Gray building in Platteville, opened Nov. 3.

The collaborative effort between UW-Platteville’s School of Education and Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin began this fall when Sabrina Earl, executive director of Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin, contacted Dr. Lindsay Hollingsworth, assistant professor of education at UW-Platteville, with an invitation for her methods students to design activities for the new center.

The UW-Platteville students developed a variety of interactive, hands-on learning activities for stations in reading, art, mathematics, science and writing. Following, they presented their activities to Earl, Hollingsworth and Erin Edgington, STEM coordinator for the School of Education at UW-Platteville, who will decide which activities will be used at the center and/or included in a website of resources that parents and child care providers can access.

“I am excited about this collaboration with Family Connections of Southwest Wisconsin,” said Hollingsworth. “I appreciate the opportunity for methods students to prepare meaningful activities that will be shared with area children. By design, students are engaging in meaningful lesson planning and providing a service to the community.”

“The authentic STEM learning activities that were created by the students at UW-Platteville are highly engaging, presenting real world and hands-on learning in a variety of ways,” said Edgington. “These activities will provide opportunities for parents, caregivers and the children they bring to the center to interact, explore, manipulate and problem-solve in a variety of contexts. This is a very exciting opportunity for all and connects STEM education to the youngest of learners in a meaningful way.”

“These activities will help children develop an interest in and appreciation for the world around them, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Earl. “Hopefully, this early exposure will help inspire them to continue exploring these areas as they grow older and possibly even pursue STEM careers in the future.”

Support for the resources and materials for the learning activities came from the United Way of Platteville; Ann and Leo Stoll Jr. Charitable Trust at Mound City Bank, Platteville; Platteville Thrift Shop; Platteville Community Fund; and Dubuque Community YMCA/YWCA, Dubuque, Iowa.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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