National Grid Grant Supports SUNY Oswego’s KidsTech Programs
More schoolchildren will have access to engaging, hands-on learning experiences in STEM curriculum, and SUNY Oswego technology education students will learn how to deliver this content in person and remotely, thanks to a charitable grant provided by National Grid to Oswego KidsTech.
Officials from National Grid came to SUNY Oswego on Sept. 24 to present a check for $19,800 to support the KidsTech programs, developed and administered by Mark Springston and Karin Dykeman ’91 M’99 CAS’19, who are faculty in SUNY Oswego’s Department of Technology.
The grant will enable the program to:
- acquire higher level, more engaging materials and equipment to send home with students, enabling them to continue learning and exploring after their program session concludes;
- continue and expand the remotely delivered program, using funds for more engaging materials and equipment; and
- provide a richer teaching experience for our KidsTech teachers and a more integrated knowledge structure for all participants.
Initially launched in 2012, KidsTech consists of two, 4-week programs each semester for schoolchildren in STEM 4 Kids (kindergarten to third grade) and Young Inventors (4-6th grade). Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program shifted to remote delivery in 2020 and attracted students from well beyond the local Oswego area.
“This generous gift from National Grid will make celebrating the 10th year of successful academic enrichment programming even stronger and provide a great start for our second decade,” Springston said. “The significant enhancement the National Grid funding provides is allowing students to take home high-quality STEM equipment and materials at the conclusion of the four-week program. By having resources to work with at home, students will be able to extend their learning beyond the spring and fall week programs, as far as their imagination and initiative can take them.”
“This contribution is a reaffirmation of our partnership with KidsTech and the great work Mark and Karin are doing to prepare tomorrow’s leaders in STEM careers,” said Alberto Bianchetti, regional director for National Grid. “National Grid is committed to inspiring, attracting and developing the next generation of engineers and problem solvers that will continue our work toward a clean energy future Workforce development is a main pillar of our community commitment initiative Project C, and programs like KidsTech help young minds understand the boundless future ahead of them.”
Dykeman and Springston said they are grateful for the support of National Grid and having a corporate partner who values STEM education.
“STEM education is important because it provides children with the thinking abilities and problem-solving skills to create a better future for themselves and those around them,” Dykeman said. “STEM careers have some of the highest earning potential and highest job satisfaction ratings, and can be a socioeconomic equalizer for students’ futures.”
Springston added: “Programs like KidsTech make STEM content fun and engaging, so that learning seems more like play than work. Children are naturally curious and creative, and providing them with material that allows them to exercise those traits leads to deeper learning. Eliminating the barriers and emphasizing the connections among the different components of iSTEM (integrative Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), enables children to immerse themselves in integrative explorations to solve problems by applying multiple disciplines simultaneously, just like practicing STEM professionals.”
Equally important, the program increases opportunities for SUNY Oswego students majoring in technology education to practice teaching before their student teaching experiences. The future teachers are responsible for designing lesson plans and collaborative team-based STEM projects.
“Our students develop highly engaging learning opportunities for the children by bouncing ideas off of each other and their professors,” Dykeman said. “They are genuinely excited to have an additional opportunity to interact with and teach the children beyond those required by their practicum placements.”
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