Leadership class conducts STEM outreach

On Saturday, December 2nd, Myers-Lawson School of Construction Graduate Students hosted a “Stem Day of Play,” for local kindergartners. They were assigned the task of developing and executing a service project that benefited the local community by their professor of Leadership, Dr. Josh Iorio. The group collectively decided to target kindergartners and their parents with a vision of “building the future generations of architects and engineers: enabling spatial skills development through structured play.”

The event was organized into two phases: a parent’s information session and an activity session. For the first half hour of the event, parents met with students to discuss strategies to develop young children’s spatial intelligence, one’s ability to visualize three-dimensional objects in space. Spatial intelligence is a vital skill of construction engineers and architects and early development increases the likelihood of achievement in STEM fields. Activities for the day were presented to parents before the main activity session, ensuring the parents were familiar with each event. Simultaneously, the kindergartners participated in an interactive story time that highlighted construction themes. After the parent’s information session concluded, families traveled from station to station, actively participating in activities that developed spatial intelligence such as stacking cups, folding paper airplanes, and aligning building blocks according to a blueprint. Fun music was frequently played with a dance session half way through the event to keep kid’s engaged. The result was a high energy event with lots of enthusiasm and participation.

At the end of the day, the group of student’s received lots of positive feedback. The event lasted roughly 2.5 hours with 65 children and roughly 60 parents attending. In an exit survey, parents reported a 17% improvement in parent confidence to implement STEM activities at home. One couple stated, “This is the best STEM kid’s session we have attended – and we have been to several!” While another parent said, “VT Students were amazing with the children! Engaging! Very organized event. Excellent Job!” Overall, the event was a great experience for both VT students and the attendees.