Aiming to help Slackwood School students develop their STEM skills, the Lawrence Township Education Foundation has awarded a $20,182 grant to the Lawrence Township Public Schools to bring a fully stocked STEM (science, engineering, technology, math) cart into the school’s renovated library.
The money, which was donated to the Lawrence Township Education Foundation by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Corp., will be used for two initiatives – S.E.E. STEM (Strengthening Equitable Experiences in STEM) and B.E. STEM (Building Entries into STEM).
Nearly three dozen bins on the STEM cart will be filled with construction material, circuits, robotics and basis low-tech items such as cardboard, duct tape, string and glue.
Using the materials in the STEM cart, students in the grades K-3 school can come up with creative ideas to apply their STEM skills in the classroom. They may explore topics such as energy, transportation, communications, coding and eco-literacy through high-tech and low-tech projects.
In addition to the STEM cart, the Lawrence Township Education Foundation grant will be used to bring Chromebooks into the Slackwood School library.
“It is our hope that the materials from the S.E.E. STEM and B.E. STEM grant will spark excitement and curiosity in STEM topics, and maybe for future careers in STEM,” said Karen Faiman, executive director of the Lawrence Township Education Foundation.
The STEM cart will be located in the STREAM (science, technology, research, engineering, arts, math) area of the school’s newly renovated library. The library renovation project is being funded by a $100,000 grant, also from the Lawrence Township Education Foundation.
The project calls for relocating and doubling the size of the library, which has been housed in one room on the first floor of the elementary school on Princeton Pike. The current library, which is being replaced, is 1,400 square feet.
The library is moving into a remodeled space in the basement of the school. It will feature a media zone and the STREAM Center. The media zone and the STREAM Center will be located in different areas of the library.
The media zone will include the library’s book collection, which will be expanded to include new titles – in both print and new media formats. The Slackwood School library’s book collection is the smallest among the four elementary schools, officials said.
The media zone also will include interactive video technology, and research tools such as Chromebook laptop computers and iPads. It will be large enough to handle several classes simultaneously for lessons and projects
On the other side of the library, the STREAM Center will include whiteboard walls, as well as wipe-off tables for brainstorming, mind-mapping and design work.
The STREAM Center also can accommodate rotating projects and initiatives that include a Makerspace, coding station and video production studio. It can also be used as a family resource and education center.
“The Makerspace is a flexible space for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses everything from high tech to ‘no tech’ tools,” said Jeanne Muzi, the Slackwood School principal.
The goal of the Makerspace is for students to work together to learn, collaborate and build. They can explore new ideas which will enable them to create new things or to improve things that already exist. They can hone their problem-solving skills and take on new challenges, Muzi said.