Harker’s WiSTEM Club (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) visited with STEM Buddies at Harker Preschool last week, and both the preschoolers and high schoolers had a great time! The program, started in 2014, passes along the joy of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the schools littlest students using fun, interactive learning.
“It’s amazing to direct and train so many upper school students, who are not only passionate about their individual pursuits of STEM, but also willing to help spread their love and passion for STEM to the preschoolers,” said Constance Horng, grade 11, one of the organizers of this year’s event. “STEM Buddies is an event aimed at engaging youth and the larger Harker community in STEM, and being able to help fulfill this mission by organizing this event is extremely rewarding.”
Co-organizer Morgan Douglas, grade 12, also enjoys planning the event. “I take great interest in accounting for developmental stages while designing activities,” she noted. “I’ve attended STEM Buddies events at both the preschool and the lower school, and have been struck by the huge developmental gap between these two groups; they really are very developmentally distinct. In the past, we’ve found that many activities that lower schoolers have found greatly exciting have been completely inaccessible to preschoolers.”
To design successful activities, the group stayed in close contact with Robyn Stone, STEM specialist at the preschool, who helped them understand the preschoolers’ abilities. They also considered which activities were successful and unsuccessful in previous years.
Beyond the science, the visits are just plain fun. “The most outstanding part of the event was definitely being able to see the smiles of amazement on the preschoolers’ faces when they watched or replicated our demonstrations and experiments,” said Horng. “The preschoolers were interested in learning the scientific concepts behind cool, engaging experiments.”
Douglas also thrived on the feedback. “I was trying to explain molecular cohesion to a group of preschoolers in very simple terms – the bubble stays together because the little parts that it’s made of hold onto each other very tightly,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting my audience to reach a huge enlightening, but was really delighted when one preschooler excitedly repeated the idea back to me in his own words, and then for five minutes ran around outside telling all the adults what he had learned about cohesion.
“The preschoolers really enjoyed interacting directly with the activities. They are naturally curious, and so were determined to pop the bubbles, to make their own shaving cream artwork, and to create their own waves by rubbing our Chinese spouting bowl. If they saw a WiSTEM member doing it – many of them would want to do it themselves,” she noted.
To learn more about the STEM Buddies program check out this 2015 Harker Quarterly article on the subject.