Teaching the Leaders of Tomorrow
In recent years, STEM, a national initiative to teach rigorous curriculum of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, became a the buzz in education.
Later, STEM evolved into STEAM where the disciplines of Art + Design were added and the STEAM movement took hold. Now, teachers, researchers, policy makers, students, and business people not only support STEAM, but encourage and create opportunities outside of the typical classroom!
STEAM Studio of Kansas City is one of these opportunities. Dr. Mandi Sonnenberg and her partners Matt Gunter and Hank Stratemeier opened the doors to STEAM Studio, a non-profit organization that focuses on encouraging learners of all ages to grow through STEAM initiatives and activities. The studio, housed in Westport, in the Gould Evans building, provides a unique, “anti-classroom” collaborative space for kids to feel comfortable in.
During the past year, Mandi and Rockhurst University(where Mandi is a Professor and Educational Technologist) enlisted after-school groups to pilot the program, beginning with students bused from Visitation and St. Ann’s Catholic schools. With after-school clubs like “Digital Natives,” students were free to choose projects in the areas such as robotics, coding, programming or App design. One club targeted girls, allowing girls to explore projects in science, technology, engineering, art and math- a typically male dominated field. During these sessions, kids are able to explore, create, and problem solve through the introduction of principles of Design Thinking; how to use creativity to solve problems and to think outside the box while creating real-applications. The “Next Gen Club” allowed kids to design their own games, outfits, rooms and more. The classes involve community leaders and innovators, artists, and business owners, leading the kids through real-life opportunities in learning.
The studio is always alive with learning, and children engaged in activity.
This past summer, Steam Studio offered camps for kids in the 1st-4th grade. These camps offered kids more opportunities to engage in activities in coding, programming, making potions and experiments in the kitchen, designing rooms and special spaces, and to learn all about animals! Older Kids had the opportunity to work with local KC Company Shick USA. Mandi and Shick USA staff led students through interactive learning exercises in manufacturing, from the corporate office to actual production. Students rotated through all Shick’s corporate departments and learned about different careers. One day of the camp allowed students to spend the entire time doing hands-on activities in Shick’s sheet metal, machining and shipping preparation areas. In addition, students listened to guest speakers from Tesla Motors and Sioux Chief Manufacturing.
Through Steam Studio, students are learning through hands on, technical, interactive and fun activities. Students now know and can experience more about what it takes to set themselves apart from the rest as they work with the best. Steam Studio and what it offers is preparing these students for career skill-sets and a bright future!
To learn more, become a sponsor, or donate to the Steam Studio, click here.