The original STEM team has evolved from science, technology, engineering and math to include the arts (STEAM), thereby creating a new lens by which our offerings are intended to be more diverse and holistic. Our evolving STEAM initiatives include on- and off-campus opportunities, and our connections with learning partners span multiple communities, including K–12 educational institutions to adult learning organizations. We are also widening our reach to include essential partners focused on humanitarian, social justice and environmental awareness efforts.
Western Mass Science & Engineering Fairs
One of the largest initiatives the STEAM Outreach Program has embraced is relocating the Western Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair to Smith College. Towns included in the region span from New York state (west) to the central Massachusetts boundary (north and south of Ware and Palmer). Just under 100 towns are included in the Region 1 district, although presently only a small percentage of school districts take advantage of the opportunities that authentic research offers by way of science fairs.
A primary goal of collaborating with the Massachusetts Science & Engineering Fair (MSEF) is to provide visibility, accessibility and affordability of the fair to students, teachers, school districts and mentors. The vision for future programming includes creative, holistic, interdisciplinary opportunities for K–12 learners and STEAM ambassadors to use inquiry and problem-based learning methods to solve real-world problems.
Crafting for Community
The Crafting for Community (C4C) initiative provides opportunities for Smith students and local community members to connect by way of crafting handmade, donatable goods. Items such as afghans, blankets, hats, bags and scarves are created and then donated to organizations or causes that Smithies have identified as addressing societal or environmental problems. Homeless shelters, hospitals, food pantries, organizations supporting veterans, refugees, survivors and rescued animals are possible recipients. Crafters can learn new skills by expert instructors who lead workshops at Smith. We also aim to provide additional non-instructional maker space meeting hours to support crafters.
Student Scientists Outreach Program
The Student Scientists Outreach Program focuses on the use of the zebrafish model system to take advantage of its beautiful and captivating embryology, the many genetic and cellular approaches, fast embryonic development and its total accessibility for assaying environmental manipulation. We primarily target teacher training with the zebrafish, and tailor its use to the common core objectives and teacher goals.
This program’s success is in part due to the fact that we are not adding on curriculum to teachers, but providing opportunities to deliver the same curriculum with more engaging and inquiry-based methods. We are currently working with 10 teachers in five school districts.
On a Mission to Make Masks
The Crafting for Community (C4C) initiative at Jandon is designed to provide experiential engagement opportunities by crafting hand-made goods like afghans, blankets, hats and scarves to give to organizations in need. C4C was recognized and awarded the 2020 President’s Innovation Grant Award for Equity and Diversity at Smith College. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, C4C made nearly 1,500 masks, which were donated to campus essential workers, student residents and people in need in the Northampton community and beyond.
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Smith College STEAM Ambassadors
Smith undergraduates who are interested in STEAM Outreach partake in a variety of single- or multiple-session leadership opportunities throughout the academic year. Partnerships include local schools, after-school programs, adult education centers or community organizations who request STEAM experiential educational opportunities. With guidance from the STEAM Outreach coordinator, STEAM ambassadors develop and facilitate lessons and activities at local schools, area events, or in GED programs. Once the activity is refined, the team works to develop a classroom loaner kit and/or lesson plans that can be used in the community or with a group visiting campus. Collaborative initiatives include Girls Who Code, Introduce a Girl to Engineering (IGTED), Western Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair volunteers and judges, and the Pioneer Valley Maker Faire.
Smith College STEAM Fellows
STEAM fellows are undergraduate students who have a passion for connecting STEAM-related content, inspirational activities and experiential learning opportunities with community needs and work in the Jandon Center.