By VICKI BROWN
The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry (CML) sent their mobile museum to Forest Hills Elementary School on February 16. The trailer contained the Pop Up Tinker Shop and Brown Bag STEM Challenge.
The mobile museum provides learning through play, and introduces Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities for those children who don’t have access to the Museum. According to facilitators at CML, the best method for presenting STEM to young learners is through play-based activities.
The Pop Up Tinker Shop (PUTS) is a trailer that is filled with hands-on, play-based STEM activities. It includes giant foam blocks, simple circuits, a raceway, a pipe wall with balls, foam interlocking dinosaur bones, and wooden pieces that can be put together in a variety of ways.
These stations help students practice necessary life skills, such as communication, empathy, problem-solving and persistence.
Museum officials say that PUTS goes into communities and schools where poverty is high, and attending the museum would be difficult or impossible due to a lack of finances, transportation, or because of the distance.
“We were able to come out today with a grant from Boeing,” said Savannah McMullen, with the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. “We gave each child a prepackaged brown bag with various recycled materials inside. Today, they were asked to build a ‘claw machine’ that would pick up tiny pompoms without the kids using their hands.”
According to Colleton County teacher Ally Walker, these projects provide an exciting challenge for the kids.
“It is amazing that for every child here, starting from first grade on up, not a single child will have the same idea or design,” she said. “Each child’s design is unique. This activity helps them experiment, learn, figure things out and be creative.”
In the Brown Bag STEM Challenge, the children have to plan, build, test, and improve their designs which helps them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Then the students can take home their brown bags to continue their learning as they build something else.
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