12 classrooms, 3 schools, 3 days, nearly 150 students in K-2, Phew! It was ambitious, but IRW was up for the task. Partnering up with biologist Dr. Karen James from the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, IRW took its pilot K-2 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program Downeast to Lubec, Machias, and Machiasport.
Knowing that a focus on STEM is important for student success, IRW saw an underserved niche in grades K-2. Much was going on for the older students, especially middle and high school, but little was being offered in the form of enrichment programs for K-2, so IRW set out to address that, using picture books as portals to science and other STEM fields.
Teachers and students worked together to prepare for the visit, researching trees, reading books provided by IRW, and doing activities. When Dr. James arrived at their school, students were introduced to a “real-life” scientist and got to work together with her to create herbarium samples like those used in great museums and institutions around the world. The students also received a free copy of The Tremendous Tree Book, much to their delight. Every class was a hive of excitement and engagement! Thanks to Tina Wormell, Mitch Look, and Sue Almendinger for their openness and collaboration, to all the teachers who acted as support staff, to the students for their energy and hard work, Linda Uberseder for her comprehensive lesson plans, and of course Dr. Karen James, who made it all possible!