Making STEM Learning Fun and Inclusive
Early learning is vital to children, families and communities. But significant cultural barriers amplify the systemic racism that undergirds our education ecosystem and makes it more difficult for communities of color to succeed and thrive. Our team at Early Learning Multnomah is dedicated to rectifying this injustice through brain-building interactions from birth and beyond. The team is helping to build stable, healthy homes by providing access to high-quality, culturally specific preschools, creating authentic connections to elementary schools and ensuring a smooth transition into kindergarten. We believe every child can be successful in school.
One of our most exciting and engaging projects is the conception, creation and delivery of culturally specific STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits that include a variety of tools and lesson plans for families to get involved with their children’s education. These kits are meticulously crafted to authentically reflect eight different cultural groups – African American, Arabic, Latino, Native American, Nepali, Russian (Slavic), Somali and Vietnamese – and prioritize highlighting children representative of each culture and prominent people working in STEM within each community.
We recently finished assembling the last of these kits and are excited to distribute 2,710 STEM kits by way of our invaluable partners Albina Head Start, Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) and P-3 schools in Multnomah County. Our partners not only help get the kits to their final destination – homes with excited kids and parents – but also were integral to the creation of these kits. Without their help, creating these authentic and developmentally appropriate kits would have been nearly impossible.
The kits are designed to engage children and families’ curiosity in five key categories: Explore, Compare, Count, Shapes and Create. Each everyday activity builds early STEM skills and vocabulary to prepare children for success in kindergarten. Last year, 4,000 kits were distributed to families in Multnomah County, and our Early Learning Washington County hub has also distributed thousands of kits throughout Washington County.
This effort is just one among many we at United Way of the Columbia-Willamette undertake to ensure our community is resilient. You can help us continue this work by donating during this giving season – and your donation will be matched $1 for $1 thanks to the generosity of community leaders Al and Nancy Jubitz. Donate here to double your impact and help us continue this work!