Teresa CoonsSpecial to the Free Press

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September 23, 2011
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Programs to enrich the young scientist in your family

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -Is your child a future engineer? Does he or she have the curiosity of a future scientist? Do you want a different kind of after-school activity to entertain and challenge your young student? Then the John McConnell Math & Science Center's STEM Fellows would like to talk with you.This school year, 14 Colorado Mesa University students are working with the Math & Science Center to expand the horizons of Mesa County students through programs that teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts by using fun and challenging hands-on activities.Students from kindergarten through middle school have opportunities to learn engineering design by building and testing bridges and sail cars, to learn about ecosystems by exploring nearby ponds and their insect inhabitants, to study chemical processes by making their own bubblegum, and to explore the basic concepts of molecular biology by learning how DNA can be used to solve crimes. And, much more.The Colorado Mesa University students (or STEM Fellows, as they are referred to at the Math & Science Center), are engineering, math, biology, chemistry, physics, or teacher education majors. While serving as role models for the younger students, these college students have a unique opportunity to share their knowledge and passion for the fields they are studying.Their enthusiasm and excitement is infectious and captures the interest and attention of the younger students, as only the best teachers can do. Almost universally, the younger students comment that they didn't know they could have so much fun learning about science and engineering!These programs are made possible through generous support the Math & Science Center has received from a number of community partners, including the CU Boulder College of Engineering, El Pomar Foundation, The Goodwin Foundation, The Tamarisk Coalition, Alpine Bank, EnCana, and Dr. Randy Rottman. Grants from these partners are used to fund stipends for the STEM Fellows, who work an average of 15-20 hours per week to develop and conduct a variety of extracurricular programs. Grant funds also provide scholarships to ensure that all students can attend programs at the Math & Science Center.This fall, the STEM Fellows will be conducting weekly activities in 13 District 51 elementary schools as part of the after-school Extended Hours program. They will also be conducting a variety of after-school camps at the Math & Science Center every week, including "Wild for Engineering" and "Wild for Engineering: Girls Only" for 3rd-5th graders; "Imagineers," an engineering program for 1st and 2nd graders; and "A Biologist's Guide to the Planet Earth," for 4th and 5th graders.Additional programs (including programs for middle school students) are planned for no-school days and for the spring semester. In addition, the STEM Fellows participate in community events and school functions, bringing demonstrations and hands-on activities, and conduct a monthly Family Science Night at the Math & Science Center on the first Thursday of every month.To learn more about these programs, visit the Math & Science Center's website at www.MathandScienceCenter.org and check out "What's Happening." And don't forget to sign your young Einstein up for fall camps; go to www.MathandScienceCenter.org/calendar for more information or to register, or call 970-254-1626.------------------------Teresa Coons, Ph.D., is executive director of the John McConnell Math & Science Center of Western Colorado.

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The Post Independent Updated Sep 23, 2011 12:27AM Published Sep 23, 2011 12:26AM Copyright 2011 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.