LEWISTON, Idaho – Lewis-Clark State College has received a $15,000 gift from the Idaho Community Foundation to help support Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning opportunities for area K-12 teachers through the i-STEM program.
The i-STEM program was established in Idaho to promote education and events available to K-12 teachers that enhance and enrich the teaching of STEM subjects in the classroom and beyond. I-STEM is run through the Idaho Department of Education and receives funding from several sources.
Idaho has six i-STEM institutes, all located at public higher education institutions, including Lewis-Clark State College. A part of the program, LCSC has hosted a three-day workshop during the past four summers to help teachers bring STEM learning and projects into the classroom.
LCSC education professor Ken Wareham serves as the coordinator for the LCSC i-STEM program and workshop. He said i-STEM provides funding for the workshop to support teacher attendance and bring in speakers and presenters with innovative ideas. In addition, there is a small budget to purchase STEM items for the LCSC STEM library that Wareham oversees. Educators in Region II can check out this equipment to use in their classroom.
“It’s a great thing for all because many of the schools could not afford this equipment on their own,” Wareham said. “But if we have it here in our lending library, they can contact me or go to our web page and ask to check out the materials, and I will package them up and send them out, or drop them off if I am out in that area doing some classroom supervision.”
Wareham said the Idaho Community Foundation heard about the library lending program, which led to the $15,000 gift to support STEM learning opportunities.
“My big idea, and I’ve been working on this with Rob McDonald (professor in the LCSC Technical & Industrial Division), is to make a little machine that is a hydraulic bridge crusher,” Wareham said. “You give each student a set of balsa wood sticks, some cardboard, and all the materials they need, plus the design specifications, to make a bridge out of balsa wood. And then we stick their bridge in the machine and put the press on it to see how much weight it can hold.”
Wareham said when he previously taught in high school, he did this exercise with his students and they really enjoyed it.
“They thought it was great and couldn’t wait until next year because they had learned so many things from their failures,” he said. “I did it with my wife’s third grade class (in Genesee) two years and those little third graders were so excited. They worked so hard on it and they had a great time.
“There is a lot of fun in doing destructive testing and seeing what you can do the next time to make it better.”
Wareham has been at LCSC for 17 years and has served as site coordinator of the i-STEM program at LCSC for the four years it has been at the college.
For more information on the LCSC i-STEM program or the $15,000 gift, contact Wareham at [email protected] or call 208-792-2625.