STEM Beyond Schools
The Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub sits under the umbrella of Douglas County Partners for Student Success (DCPSS) and offers an approach to teaching and lifelong learning that emphasizes the natural interconnectedness ofall disciplines of learning with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. This integrated approach to learning creates problem-solvers, innovators, critical thinkers and collaborative team players, collectively referred to as STEAM Thinking. We are committed to connecting children, families and educators with resources and career-connected learning to build the skills needed to identify problems and create innovative solutions that lead to social and economic vitality.
While STEAM learning can occur in traditional classroom settings, STEAM education also takes place outside of school time (OST). The STEM Beyond School (SBS) program in partnership with the Oregon STEM Hub network and implemented by Oregon State University Extension increases access to high quality out-of-school learning experiences for elementary and middle school youth. The participants in the program from Douglas County also receive support from the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub.
At this time seven local community partners who work with youth have committed to participating in this professional learning program designed to engage youth in hands-on, minds-on learning experiences. Participating organizations include the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Umpqua Valley Arts Association, YMCA of Douglas County, C. Giles Hunt Memorial Public Library in Sutherlin, Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley and Wildlife Safari.
STEM Beyond Schools is funded by an Oregon Department of Education STEM Innovation grant. Each new participant has access to 50 paid hours of flexible learning through June. The training includes social-emotional learning, youth development and culturally inclusive and community-based programs. The learning structure is not a curriculum, but rather builds educators’ capacities to provide hands-on STEAM learning relevant to their communities and youth with real-time support.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley has been participating in STEM Beyond Schools for a couple of years now. “I was very enamored right from the start,” says Marcus Vela, the education director and teen STEAM summer coordinator for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Umpqua Valley. “STEM beyond School provides training from statewide professors, educators and other leaders entrenched in STEAM education. It has been great to learn more but to also connect with peers and share our experiences in a collaborative way. It’s also amazing to take an organic idea and incorporate it into a learning opportunity for kids.”
As a result, the Boys & Girls Club has expanded their already existing STEAM programming. “We’ve revitalized the education program,” adds Jeremiah Fallin, director of technology. “STEM Beyond School took us to the next level. We like to ask ourselves how we can improve and make things better.” Fallin further explains that the STEAM learning opportunities at the Club include Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the educators can feel confident that the kids are also learning about new and innovative concepts. The dedicated team likes keeping things fresh for the students who are ongoing Club members.
It’s exciting to see that the interest in STEAM learning is expanding throughout our region. Cody Brockelmeyer the CEO at the YMCA of Douglas County says that STEM Beyond Schools is giving him the opportunity to learn all that he can. “STEAM education is about implementing what we already have in place,” he explains. “For instance, when kids are shooting basketballs, we can teach them about the measurement of angles while integrating healthy habits.” Brockelmeyer also shares that a Girl Scout troop has recently started holding meetings at the YMCA. Coincidentally, the troop’s leader mentioned she would like to incorporate the Y’s STEAM capabilities into the scouts’ activities. “We’re excited to share and integrate ideas with each other,” Brockelmeyer adds.
Our community is fortunate to have dedicated partners who love promoting STEAM learning throughout Umpqua Valley to bring lifelong learners together.
“It is fun to be part of this community,” says Fallin. “The whole idea is to learn and then to try something out.”
The Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub is available to offer these participating organizations ongoing support and provide hands-on learning tools from our Resource Lending Library as well as additional professional learning opportunities. Besides the statewide community of learners, we are supporting local conversations and planning to coordinate learning across our out of school STEAM partners.