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Stem Kits Are Here!

Children don’t need to be scientists, engineers or math geniuses to have fun with STEM—they just need to be curious, which they naturally are! ELM co-created STEM Kits with IRCO, Latino Network, NAYA and KairosPDX to encourage parents and young kids to ask questions and solve problems together in culturally specific ways. 
 
What are STEM Kits? 
STEM Kits help parents take advantage of everyday opportunities to practice the building blocks of STEM—asking questions, using tools, building things, and solving problems. The booklets give suggestions about questions to ask, topics to explore, and famous STEM leaders to learn about.  The kits include a booklet of activities that parents can use with their kids during their daily routines (on a walk, washing the dishes, folding laundry). Each activity has a variation for two different age groups (ages 0-2 and ages 3-5) and the booklets are broken down into five sections: Explore, Compare, Count, Shapes, Create. Each kit also contains helpful tools—like a magnifying glass, chalk, large buttons for counting and sorting, a pack of seeds to plant and watch grow, and a notepad—that can be used for the activities in the booklet.
 
Who created the STEM Kits? 
ELM invested $75,000 to co-create STEM Kits in six languages with four culturally specific organizations—IRCO, Latino Network, NAYA and KairosPDX. With the help of these critical partners, we were able to steward the creation of kits designed specifically for seven culturally specific communities: African American, Arabic, Latinx, Native American, Slavic, Somali, and Vietnamese. We also worked closely with ImpactNW to get additional insight and guidance on effective methods for teaching STEM. 
 
What makes the STEM kits culturally specific? 
In addition to being available in six languages, one of the main things that makes the kits culturally specific is the “Did you know?” section at the end of each category of the booklet. Each “Did you know?” highlights a person from the community who has been successful in the STEM field—such as Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go to space, or Ynés Mexía, a Mexican-American botanist. This is one way of ensuring that all kids see themselves represented in the world of STEM from an early age. The booklets also feature photos of children and parents that reflect the families they are intended to reach. 
 
How will the STEM kits be distributed? 
Volunteers will assemble the 4,000 STEM Kits during United Way’s of the Columbia-Willamette’s MLK Weekend of Service. Once the kits are assembled, they will be delivered to partner organizations where each will get to decide how best to distribute them to families in their communities. This has also been a proven and successful model for getting more than 16,000 literacy kits in the hands of families over the past three years.
 
Have questions or want to learn more about ELM's STEM kits? Get in touch with Amanda Grear.