STEM grant leads to afterschool program

Posted November 6, 2013 at 9:11 am

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PHOTO: Serena Brokaw touches a salamander held by Daniela Graham of Blank Park Zoo during the Scales and Tails afterschool program at Carpenter Elementary School. Classmates facing the camera are Kendra Jacobs (with headband) and Courtney Thies. (Photo submitted)

Students at Carpenter Elementary School are learning about amphibians and reptiles as part of an afterschool program made possible by a STEM grant.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“This one really focuses on science, studying amphibians and reptiles,” said Robyn Ponder, third-grade teacher at Carpenter. “We have activities for seven weeks after school on Mondays, where the kids do experiments and activities that explore how reptiles and amphibians are alike and how they’re different.”

The program, which is for grades 2-4, began Oct. 28 with Daniela Graham of Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines bringing animals to the school for students to look at and – if they were brave enough – touch.

“It’s just a way to get them more excited about science and involved in learning about science through activities,” said Ponder, who co-wrote the grant application with district curriculum director Gretchen Kriegel.

More than 80 students have signed up for the program, which is free.

It features a long list of activities.

“It’s put on like day camps. The lesson plans are already written out for us to do,” Ponder said. “There will be four different classrooms that the students go to, and they get four different activities (each week).”

The grant came from the governor’s STEM advisory council.