Taking STEM Learning to Seattle’s Asian Immigrant Community
by School's Out Washington | | Posted under
Chinese Information & Service Center in Seattle provides afterschool and summer programming to children and youth in central and south Seattle. CISC is one of five programs participating in a STEM pilot focused on continuous quality improvement in practice. Peggy Kwok, Youth Development Program Supervisor, explains how her program serving approximately 60 youth incorporates STEM learning into their curriculum and the benefits this focus has brought to participating youth.
Our After School Program provides homework help and enrichment activities for bilingual and bicultural elementary students, in addition to family support for parent engagement, all to support students’ learning. Last year, we started to include STEM education in our program curriculum.
In order to increase students’ engagement and inspire them to explore STEM concepts, we currently implement student-driven, project-based and inquiry-based STEM activities once a week. Students play active roles through hand-on activities with program staff’s support. Students become part of the learning process and are empowered in their own learning about STEM.
Besides this, we partner with STEM rich institutions such as Danny Woo Garden and Seattle Aquarium. They provide teaching resources on agriculture and conservation of marine environment respectively, as well as activities for students to enrich their experience related to special learning.
Our After School Program also invites STEM professionals such as accountants, structural engineers, water/waste engineers, doctors, and veterans to share about their careers with students. Students have opportunities to directly engage with STEM professionals and are able to see how their current academic experience helps prepare them for future career opportunities. Students are informed about the necessary academic prerequisites required to pursue various STEM professions.
In addition, we collaborate with STEM-rich organizations such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center to offer field trips for students. The visits aim to spark students’ imaginations and encourage children’s natural curiosities to explore the world they live in. Students can learn that many different STEM professionals solve interesting and challenging problems with their creative minds and teamwork efforts – showing their contributions make a world of difference and shape humanity’s future.
Last but not least, we conduct STEM Parent Workshops. STEM professionals show parents how STEM is part of everyday life, introducing parents to resources in the home that can incorporate STEM learning into children’s daily interactions. We have been working on inspiring parents to explore STEM concepts just like their children and to step outside their traditional cultural framework. We provide parents with opportunities to engage in conversations about their everyday interactions with their children. Parents have reported that their children show considerable interest in STEM activities at home.
Our After School Program aims to provide additional time for students to engage in STEM activities in a manner which is different from schools. We have been working on clear visions of specific, measurable and attainable goals to include STEM education in our program in more effective ways. Strengthening staff’s knowledge and skills to deliver high-quality STEM learning opportunities more effectively is another main focus. We are grateful to have support from School’s Out Washington’s STEM Pilots to improve the quality of our program.
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