STEM program takes school by Storm

STEMFREMONT — With the help of several hundred Fremont Elementary School students, Storm was finally able to take care of that pesky itch on his back.

The mascot’s dilemma was the basis of the first STEM with Storm event, held Oct. 6 at the school.

A collaboration between Trine University’s Innovation One business and Education One, STEM with Storm will return monthly throughout the school year to present science, technology, engineering and math programs to kindergarten through fourth-graders.

The final month of the program, the students will visit the Trine campus and experience the foundry lab, plastics lab and other engineering-related facilities.

“Our goal is to integrate more science and to show students how they can integrate those areas of academics, apply them and have an end product,” said Eric Bryan, principal at Fremont Elementary School.

Dr. William Stitt, superintendent of Fremont Community Schools, said a team from the school district and the university met over the summer to design the program.

“The first real science our kids here at Fremont see is in fifth grade and we want that love for science to happen before fifth grade,” said Stitt. “We wanted to bring something in, and Trine is known for its science and curriculum.”

For 45 minutes, Innovation One executive director Jason Blume, Lindsay Omlor, the university’s director of charter schools and Storm presented a high-energy, interactive program formatted somewhat like a children’s television show, introducing students to what an engineer is, the different types of engineering and how engineers solve problems.

In this case, the problem was Storm’s itchy back, so the students worked to design a back scratcher so the mascot could get some relief.

Omlor said the presentations will cover multiple subjects and disciplines, and incorporate Indiana College and Career Readiness standards in science, math and English/language arts.

“The goal is to get students to see that STEM learning is interdependent and connected, not solely focused on science,” she said. “We will focus primarily on demonstrations, incorporating student collaboration, project-based learning and hands-on experiments when applicable.”

The response to the first STEM with Storm was very positive, with students eagerly volunteering to help Omlor and Blume, raising their hands to answer questions and shouting out answers as a group when prompted by the two hosts.

“The kids are ready and eager for more,” said Blume. “The district is excited for us to come back. The teachers loved it.”

“It was excellent,” said Stitt. “Any time we can get kids involved in creating things, I love it. I look forward to next month.”

Photos: Top, Fremont Elementary School Students help Storm, center, Lindsay Omlor, director of charter schools, second from right, and Jason Blume, executive director of Innovation One, right, prompt students to decide whether certain professions are engineers during STEM with Storm on Oct. 6. Bottom, Storm tries to scratch his back on Blume as students work to design a back scratcher. (Photos by Dean Orewiler)