First early learning STEM class a hit with families

Kids as young as 3 learned about structures, simple machines and systems in the first ever Anoka-Hennepin Early Childhood Family Education science, technology, engineering and math class.

Two sessions of the 15-week class ran this fall, and 15 students between the ages of 3 and 5 were enrolled. Parents attended class with their children.

Jett Stevens, 4, proudly showed mom and grandma how a marble was able to roll down an incline plane and through a pathway system of paper plates and toilet paper rolls to reach his milk carton structure during a classroom celebration Jan. 14.

“This is his favorite class,” said Jett’s mom, Amy Stevens. “His little brain is always trying to figure things out. This is his language.”

ECFE teacher Joye Baumgartner and parent educator Tricia Weber worked together to write STEM curriculum over the summer, aligning the course to what is taught in Anoka-Hennepin elementary schools.

“They bounced ideas off of each other,” said Mischelle Squire, ECFE and School Readiness outreach facilitator. “It’s been fun to watch it all come together.”

During last week’s STEM celebration, students made the “Three Little Pigs” story come to life, building structures out of sticks, straw and bricks.

When Baumgartner brought out wagons, simple machines, so that the pigs could travel between structures, kids correctly identified axles and other parts of the machine.

Christine Grendler said her son Logan, 5, and daughter Lilah, 3, learned a lot in STEM class each week.

“It teaches them things that they don’t necessarily come into contact with in a traditional ECFE class,” she said.

Other parents have heard good things about the new STEM course and have signed their kids up for spring sessions, starting Feb. 4. With 21 kids, the two courses are full.

Jett is going to take the class a second time because he loves it so much, his mom said.

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