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ABCs of STEM come to life for NSCSD students

Many kindergarten, first and second grade students will be coming home with an unfamiliar tote bag at some point this school year.... but parents should not be alarmed.

Those students are participating in the ABC’s of S.T.E.M. Student of the Week Early Education Classroom Literacy Program. Students from more than 750 classrooms and 23 school districts across Central New York are participating in the one-year pilot program designed to bring STEM to life at home.

Karyn Burns, the program's founder, is the mother of three young children. She came up with the idea for STEM literacy kits after struggling to help her own children with their homework. "I was literally in tears trying to help my fifth grader with his math homework. I realized that if I was having a hard time, others must be too," she said. "I thought this was a fun way of encouraging students to share their learning experiences with their families. It puts them in the driver's seat of a fun, educational family learning experience."
The kits include a variety of STEM materials such as flash cards, a placemat, a family activity guide and much more. Throughout Central New York, various sponsor agencies have signed up to take on the cost of the kits. Pathfinder Bank is graciously sponsoring the kits for the North Syracuse Central School District.

More than 50 K-2 teachers in the North Syracuse Central School District have volunteered to implement the ABC’s of STEM in their schools. Those teachers have received their STEM kits and have begun sending the materials home with their students.

Linda Stephenson, a second-grade teacher at KWS Bear Road Elementary School, says her students can't wait to take the kits home and work with them. "The kids are very excited about the program," she said. "I love the fact it connects educational opportunities with the home and the community and I've had some great reactions from the students saying that the materials look fun and interesting and they can't wait to use them with their 'big sister' or other family members."

The program also allows flexibility in that if the tasks prove too challenging for students to complete in their home environment, they can be done during lunch or recess with friends and/or adults in the building.

Stephenson is working with families to have the kits sent home during a week that is convenient for them and is excited to see the results. "With 21st century learning and science expectations changing, this STEM program brings careers and awareness about Science Technology, Engineering and Math to our students in a very fun and engaging way."

Pictured above are Liam and Noah Kopiasz, both students at KWS Bear Road Elementary School. Although the boys are in different classrooms, both brought their ABC's STEM Student of the Week Kit home at the same time. Noah is a student in Linda Stephenson's second grade classroom.  The boys and their sister Lily are triplets and had a great time using the materials at home with their mom and dad.