This civic project encourages communities to ensure equal education and personalized learning by making and delivering remote learning STEAM kits to kids in our community!
We are five months into a global pandemic. Many schools are continuing to offer remote learning and virtual school while states continue to grapple with rising COVID-19 cases.
How can we change the way our students are learning and use this time to encourage a shift in education in a post-pandemic future?
This post is sponsored by the Tomorrow campaign powered by Remake Learning.
The Pandemic Impact on Education Systems
Educators across the United States have been exploring new forms of learning, assessment, support and connection opportunities for students long before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remake Learning has collaborated with KnowledgeWorks on a report that explores pre-pandemic learning innovation ideas in light of the disruption caused by the ongoing public health crisis as American families prepare for an unprecedented school year.
Our local school district is beginning the school year with remote learning like many other districts in the nation.
A Unique Opportunity to Evolve our Education System Structure
This moment in time is a unique opportunity to explore innovative learning ideas because the urgency and disruption caused by the pandemic has weakened some of the barriers to change that have kept many outdated learning systems in place.
The traditional structure of K-12 schooling is no longer an option while we move forward adjusting to public health concerns. This moment offers a possibility of true long-term change!
As a STEAM educator, I am thrilled with the opportunity to establish changes in the way that we teach our children. It is vital to provide real life learning opportunities that engage and inspire a more personalized learning path!
Addressing Socioeconomic Divides
The pandemic has highlighted racial and socioeconomic divides in education and school districts are being asked to address these fundamental issues.
It is becoming ever apparent that the path forward for school districts could be to make innovative choices now that will serve all learners in the long run.
This new report, titled Remaking Tomorrow: Learning in a Post-Pandemic Future, is part of Remake Learning’s Tomorrow campaign, which launched in May to drive the conversation around what we can do today to make tomorrow a more promising place for all learners.
The report, published on August 10th, was created to inform and inspire regional stakeholders. However, as a parent, I found the information in the report useful and know that other parents and school districts nationwide will benefit from reading the findings.
Remake Learning’s Future of Learning Commission Findings
Remake Learning’s Future of Learning Commission explored questions about the future of learning during workshops facilitated by KnowledgeWorks in May in June.
Remake Learning and KnowledgeWorks found that relationships are vital, personalized learning is possible, and accountability and acknowledgement are necessary.
What really stood out to me in the report was that personalized learning is possible. As someone who is an advocate for hands-on individualized learning opportunities that provide children real-life experience, I am very aware of this gap in our school districts.
Building Human Connections
As a person who owns a business in the world of Education, I read the report and asked myself “What can I do differently to address the findings in this report in my own business?”
We live in a small town outside of Madison, Wisconsin. Stoughton is a small community where access to STEAM activities at an Elementary and Preschool level is limited.
My business primarily exists online. I provide STEAM curriculum for educators and parents to use with their children. My whole business relies on the fact that my audience has ACCESS to my site.
I love that my audience visits this site frequently for their homeschooling and teaching needs, but can I do better? Can I bring my resources to the community? How can I change my business model to address the socioeconomic divide in my local education system?
The Rock the STEAM Team Community Approach to Education
My hope is to engage the community in a conversation that remakes the way we are teaching our kids in order to inspire children to seek careers in STEAM.
My goal with this new venture for my business is to start a conversation that encourages a more expansive view of school quality at the community level. How can I bring the community into this conversation and get them involved in the education of local children?
Remaking Tomorrow: Learning in a Post-Pandemic Future found that kids thrive when the whole community participates in decision-making and ENCOURAGEMENT of their growth. A whole community approach also allows teachers more flexibility in how they teach! “The future,” the report points out, “is everyone’s business.”
Building a Community STEAM TEAM
The Rock the STEAM Team will be dedicated to providing free monthly STEAM activities to families in local towns. We decided to kick off our STEAM dream in our own town of Stoughton, Wisconsin.
We began this initiative with a trial run of 10 remote learning STEAM activities that quickly grew to 20 activity bags because there was such great interest!
Rock the STEAM Team Project #1: Leaf Rubbing STEAM Kit
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For our first community STEAM kit, we chose to put together supplies and materials for our leaf rubbing science experiment. For about $10, you can join us by making 20 kits for kids in your community!
Rock the STEAM Leaf Rubbing STEAM Kit Supplies
How to Make STEAM Kits to Distribute to Your Community
For this civic project, we turned our Leaf Rubbing STEAM experiment into a one-pager. We printed this how-to sheet as well as the Leaf BINGO and leaf worksheets from the original leaf rubbing activity.
Decorate the STEAM Kit Bags
We started by decorating our freezer bags with our new Rock the STEAM Team community outreach venture! My hope is to continue to do this monthly if not bi-weekly to get STEAM materials into the hands of kids that might not have access to activities or supplies like these!
Create a STEAM Kit Assembly Line
First, we printed the Leaf Rubbings STEAM Activity one-pager.
After decorating our Rock the STEAM Team bags and printing our worksheets, we made an assembly line to begin stuffing our STEAM kits. This helped to ensure that we didn’t forget a single supply for each bag.
During this time, I put a post on our neighborhood group and let our community know what we were doing, why we were doing it, and asked if there were any families that would like a STEAM kit for their kids.
We had so much interest and positive feedback that we had to increase the amount of STEAM kits to 20!
Deliver the Free Remote Learning STEAM Activities to Kids
The following day, we delivered 16 bags to local families and we brought our extra bags to places in town where kids could access them like our local library and the Little Library boxes throughout town.
We made sure to follow social distancing rules, wore a mask to keep people safe, and dropped our free Rock the STEAM Kits on porches.
We also used this opportunity to map out all of the addresses and figure out the most efficient way to get around town especially with the one Main Street under complete reconstruction!
Two hours later, we had delivered all of our kits throughout the town! We can’t wait to do it again!
What’s Next for Rock the STEAM Team?
For us, we are moving forward to start a non-profit that provides free STEAM kits to underserved kids in our community. In the meantime, we are going to continue to make and deliver free STEAM activities monthly to kids in our community with the hopes of expanding into Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison, WI is an extremely diverse city with extremely prevalent socioeconomic and racial divides in education. We are going to work to develop partnerships with some of the great organizations that are already working hard to serve this huge city!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TOMORROW, POWERED BY REMAKE LEARNING!
From May through October 2020, Tomorrow, powered by Remake Learning will host a series of virtual meet-ups and workshops, youth documentaries and podcasts, social media chats and exchanges of life lessons.
Grants will help equip educators to forge the future of learning. Click here for virtual event schedules and more information.
The Tomorrow campaign is focused on asking what we can do today to make tomorrow a more promising place for every learner. We aim to find this out together.
This campaign will put a spotlight on the ideas of others, elevate our community’s questions and thoughts, and help all of us prepare for whatever the future may bring.
How Can You Get Involved?
Follow our new Rock the STEAM Team facebook page!
I challenge you to read Remaking Tomorrow: Learning in a Post-Pandemic Future. Share your thoughts on the publication and the findings using #RemakeTomorrow.
Share this post and help us spread this initiative to other communities!
Meet Toni, the Maker Mom behind Our Family Code
Hey there, I’m Toni! I’m a software engineer and Maker Mom that finds my joy in unleashing my children’s curiosity by exploring STEAM concepts with my fantastic five!
When I’m not chasing toddlers or raising tweens, you can find me tearing things up and putting them back together over here at Our Family Code.
I am the owner and content creator of multiple educational websites designed to increase access to STEAM & STEM education with a focus on teaching computer science and coding to kids of all ages!
You can also find out more about me by visiting ToniGardner.com!