STEM Outreach Impacts Community Members
[4/12/17] St. Stephen, SC – When Tina Chenoweth, the St. Stephen Library manager, had extra supplies left over from her STEM workshop, she decided to do something a little different through her outreach.
A few years ago, the St. Stephen Library didn’t have a community room. They were located in a small building on Main Street. But when the library moved to their new location in the historic school building, they received more room to expand, along with a community room for activities. Soon authors, sewers, knitters, and other hobbyists took the initiative to host their own programs through the library. When Tina Chenoweth began her role as the library’s current branch manager, she brought in even more ideas.
There’s a lot going on at the library now. One of the newest programs is a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) camp for kids on early release days. The camp’s programs involve growing seeds and herbs in gloves and bottles and keeping track of plant growth through observation.
Although Tina’s program wasn’t poorly attended, there were still a lot of supplies left over. She repeated the program with teens, but still had a surplus. So she decided to think outside the box and take what was left to the Lake Moultrie Nursing Home for outreach. The impact surprised her.
“They loved it!” Tina said. “They were amazed at the concept, and both residents and the nursing home staff stopped by the window in which the gloves were hanging every day to marvel at how big the seeds had grown.” Tina returned the next time with pots so everyone could plant their seeds.
Claudine Haynes, Activities Director for Lake Moultrie Nursing Home, reported on the progress of the outreach program. “The gardening in a glove program was the most popular program we have had. I think the residents like it so much because there is an outcome, something to look forward to.”
Tina’s outreach success accomplished two great things: First, the STEM projects engaged everyone at the nursing home, even the men. “Some of the residents who were male sometimes don’t enjoy participating in artsy/crafty stuff I do there, but there were so many more men in these programs that it was shocking,” said Tina. “We even had two male residents who never attend any programs at the home, but they came to both of my STEM programs.”
The other great thing about the plants is that the residents of the nursing home now have a small sustainable garden – a gift that keeps on giving.
“I will definitely be incorporating more STEM programs in my outreach there,” said Tina, “and I am thinking about bringing STEM Camp to one of the afterschool programs at one of my daycares that I visit every week.”
About the Berkeley County Library System: The Berkeley County Library System enriches lives by informing, inspiring and illuminating its local community. The system consists of six branches and a bookmobile that offer programs and services to a growing county. For more information about BCLS, visit berkeleylibrarysc.org..
About STEM: About STEM – STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. It focuses on these areas together not only because the skills and knowledge in each discipline are essential for student success, but also because these fields are deeply intertwined in the real world and in how students learn most effectively. http://www.stemedcoalition.org/