Jersey Shore Elementary receives grants for STEAMlab

After receiving two $500 Exxon Mobil grants last January, Adrienne Johnston and Jennifer Berry-Propst, principals at Jersey Shore Elementary School, formed a STEAM Committee with grade-level representatives to share their vision in creating a STEAMlab.

The STEAMlab would be a gathering spot for resources and materials to foster a hands-on approach to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, said a news release.

In July, committee members visited Donald E. Schick Elementary School’s Iplay Lab in Loyalsock Township. The group had plans to renovate the old computer lab to house Jersey Shore’s new STEAMlab.

Mr. Welshan, a fourth-grade teacher at Jersey Shore Elementary School, and his son, Riley, painted the STEAMlab. Paints and supplies were donated from Sherwin Williams, Williamsport, and the Parent Teacher Organization.

Brenda Neufer, third-grade teacher at Jersey Shore Elementary School and committee member, pursued one of the STEM on the Move site grants, offered through a partnership of PAsmart and Mansfield University, which allowed the committee to purchase 800 Keva planks, Keva Brain Builder task cards and seven sets of 76-piece Joinks.

“I was ecstatic when I first learned that I was successful in obtaining the grant! My thoughts went right to a visual image of students smiling with curiosity, while creating sculptures out of Joinks and Keva planks in our STEAM lab,” Neufer said.

Teachers at Jersey Shore Elementary School can sign out materials or bring their classes into the STEAMlab.

The technology department is working to transfer the inventory to a site that would also allow teachers in Avis and Salladsburg elementary schools to sign out materials through a lending library system, according to a news release.

Currently, in thanks to the Mansfield University Grant, the school has enough Joinks for students to work in teams to tackle challenges like building the highest structure or one that could be used for housing. Two other building materials also will be included in the rotation between the three elementary schools.

The STEAMLab also has received funding from the Jersey Shore Educational Foundation, which helped expand the inventory available for teachers and students.

District librarian, Katie Wert, has also helped expand access to STEAM curriculum and materials by instituting Makerspaces in the elementary libraries.

“The community can celebrate that we are encouraging a learning environment that allows students to ‘tinker’ by providing materials that engage students in hands-on activities that teach 21st-century skills,” Berry-Propst said.

Next on the committee’s list of plans is to create a LEGO wall which will provide hands-on experiences for those in the STEAMlab. In December, the elementary school received a $500 grant from Exxon’s Educational Alliance Program for STEM-related educational programs. The grant was from Exxon in Jersey Shore and aid in the construction of the LEGO wall, which is estimated to be $473.00.

Jersey Shore High School student’s in Heath Rager’s Career and Technical Education class will handle the construction of the LEGO wall.

The STEAM Committee at Jersey Shore Elementary will seek matching funds to purchase LEGOs, LEGO sets and additional materials for the project.

After hours, the STEAMlab is heavily used. Johnston’s attained a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant in the spring in which the district offers an after school program for students in first to fifth grades for two and a half hours for five days a week.

Students participate in programs and activities that support literacy and math interventions, STEAM activities, physical education, health and nutrition, library access and homework help.