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Expanding STEM Education: Kits bring fun learning home with Dodger Academy students - from The Messenger

March 17, 2021

two girls at table holding books

Dodger Academy students will have the opportunity to learn about healthy eating habits and outer space over their spring break this week thanks to a community partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach of Webster County.

“They’ve partnered with us in the past where they’d come in and do STEM activities with the kids, but because of COVID, we can’t have volunteers in the building,” said Erin Brookshire, director of the Dodger Academy program.

Dodger Academy is an afterschool program for Fort Dodge Community School District students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is held at Butler Elementary School each day.

So with students being on spring break this week, Webster County Extension and Outreach assembled dozens of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) kits for the students to take home and have a fun learning activity to complete while they’re at home.

The K-2 grade kit is “Scrumptious Stoplight,” which includes a Berenstain Bears book about junk food and other resources for students to decide if a food is a healthy choice and how often they should eat it. The kit includes instructions on how to create a healthy snack and a game families can play to make sure they are using the energy the healthy food gives them.

two students at table with cutting boards and plastic knivesFor making the snack, the kit includes a flexible cutting board and a plastic knife for the youngsters to learn how to safely chop vegetables and fruits with the help of an adult.

For the older kiddos, in grades three through five, the kit is “Astronaut Lander.” This kit has a book about astronaut Leland D. Melvin, who was drafted in the 1986 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. After two hamstring injuries, he retired from professional football a year later and went on to receive a master of science degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia. He was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 1998.

The STEM kit also includes materials for students to create their own “moon lander.”

“It’s something educational that will kind of keep (the students’) wheels turning and thinking about different stuff and it’s a great way for families to get involved with what their kids are doing here,” Brookshire said.

Brookshire said the Dodger Academy program is always welcoming new community partnerships and donors to help bring new learning opportunities to its students.

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