Math + Seeds + Design = Student Makers

by Kendra Brinkley @GCSCSTEM | 09/25/2018

The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC) brings education, community, and business partners together to make mentor-supported, making-centered learning experiences happen for K-12 students. Launched in 2011 by Procter & Gamble and StrivePartnership, GCSC connects and catalyzes STEM / STEAM / Making partnerships across the tri-state Greater Cincinnati region (Southwest Ohio, Southeast Indiana, Northern Kentucky). GCSC’s direct support is focused most on students underrepresented in STEM: students of color, girls, and low-income students.

Infosys Foundation USA’s InfyMakers 2018 grant allows GCSC to partner with the region’s largest school district, Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), to catalyze making-centered teaching and learning. This past July several CPS teachers and GCSC staff members attended the mind- and skills- expanding Pathfinders conference. Now back in Ohio, these attendees are already applying new best practices in their classrooms.

Mary G. Adams, GCSC Co-Founder, had the opportunity to attend the CrossRoads 2018 Conference as part of her organization winning the Infy Maker Award, and describes her attendance as well the impact it has had on this project: "CrossRoads 2018 immersed us in the nation’s K-12 making and computer science networks; we learned with a wide variety of experts! Participation stimulated Greater Cincinnati’s thinking and planning is underway now to bring some of the latest and best practices (including computational thinking) to our region’s students . . . beginning with those most underrepresented in STEM".

Josiah tending his garden at Taft Elementary School

Our recent Infy Maker grant from Infosys Foundation USA has allowed us to start the creation and implementation of the Making Garden Project. This project is being championed by CPS leaders, curriculum managers, a STEM high school principal, and GCSC. The project allows 60 students, across four schools, to experience hands-on, math-rich making as they create sustainable gardens. Students will consider weather patterns, soil, plant hydration, environmental factors, and community impact in their design and construction. Family members and mentors will coach the students and further amplify this amazing opportunity to build student confidence, expand their skills, and increase their interest in high-paying STEM careers.

Done for the day, Taft Elementary gardeners hang up their gloves

As the Camps and Clubs Project Manager for GCSC, I have been working on writing the curriculum and feel the Making Garden Project allows students to see a new side of STEM that they aren’t often exposed to in their current school setting. To be able to engage students in this unique STEM activity is refreshing! It challenges us as educators to think outside the box and present STEM not only as individualized subjects, but as a way of thinking that can transform all areas of our lives. I am grateful to work with CPS whose forward thinking can help revolutionize the way STEM is taught in the classroom, and leave a powerful impact on the community.

GCSC and its partners are deeply grateful for Infosys Foundation USA’s leadership, vision, and support. Our students are preparing to be tomorrow’s problem solvers and creators . . . watch out world, here they come!