Summer of STEAM

Grants allow STEAM activities to reach more students

Douglas County Partners for Student Success (DCPSS) and the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub are prepared to offer the community a summer of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics learning. The Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub works continuously to find ways to expand resources. Now even more Douglas County students will have access to STEAM support thanks to a generous $15,000 grant from The Ford Family Foundation.

With summer ahead in the midst of coronavirus concerns, STEAM programming will continue but will look different than previous years. “During the absence of our regularly scheduled summer programs and camps, it’s more important than ever to keep our children engaged and curious. At-home STEAM activities will help fill the gap,” Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub Executive Director Gwen Soderberg-Chase said.

Volunteers built kits full of STEAM-related activities recently for Hucrest Elementary students.

Volunteers have already assembled STEAM education kits at socially-distanced work parties. The kits will be distributed to families at the Boys and Girls Club of Umpqua Valley as well as Hucrest Elementary School. The grant money from The Ford Family Foundation will be used to purchase supplies for additional kits to reach more students across the county.

Hucrest Elementary serves as a model for other schools interested in becoming a designated STEAM school. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Hucrest Elementary received a $50,000 grant from Portland Metro STEM Partnership in conjunction with the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub to become a STEAM school. The school is one of 11 schools in Oregon and the first in Douglas County to go through the process. The grant will offer teachers the support they need to plan and implement new approaches to learning that support STEAM thinking, knowledge and skills. During the coming years, a multidisciplinary approach will be integrated into the curriculum. Students will show what they’ve learned in collaborative ways through investigation and problem solving. There will also be opportunities for students in different grades to work on projects together. 

“The way kids learn has changed,” Hucrest Elementary Principal Doug Freeman said. “We need to change the way we do business and STEAM is the catalyst.” He also explained that STEAM transforms learning by allowing students to participate in what they are learning.

Hucrest Elementary will end the school year with a STEAM at-home celebration. Students stopped by the school to pick up their STEAM education kits filled with things such as marbles, craft sticks, rubber bands, glue and tape. Beginning the week of June 1, students will participate in daily challenges developed by the Umpqua Valley Steam Hub in collaboration with other hubs in Oregon. The event will begin with students building catapults on “Make it Monday.”

In preparation for the event, several Hucrest Elementary teachers created their own videos to share with students. “The kids are already talking about it.” Freeman said. “When kids are networking about the learning to come, you know they’ve bought into it.”

Even though students will participate from their homes, they will have opportunities to interact with peers and share creations and experiments in Google Classroom.

“What a great way to remember the year on a positive note,” Freeman said.

Visit to find additional activities and to experience STEAM thinking throughout the summer.

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