Tulalip students engage in hands-on, experimental learning

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Excitement was hard to contain at the Greg Williams Court on the night of December 20, 2017. Though it was merely five days until Christmas, the holiday spirit appeared to take a backseat as the youth of the Tulalip community participated in a fun, educational evening at the first Family STEAM and Literacy Night, hosted by Tulalip Youth Services.

STEAM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering Arts and Mathematics is similar to the popular learning curriculum, STEM, implementing the arts as an additional area of study.  Variations of the STEAM program are currently being used in schools across the nation; however, local schools such as Quil Ceda Tulalip Elementary and Tulalip Heritage High School continue to follow the STEM program for the time being. By bringing the STEAM experience to Tulalip, families participated in creative, experimental activities and the kids had a blast while doing so.

“STEM was created to engage more students in learning and gaining hands-on skills,” explains, Jessica Bustad, Tulalip Youth Services Education Coordinator. “I feel that adding arts into what was originally STEM is important. Most of what we do in school and also in the workforce requires creativity. Art can be found in each of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. In my opinion, to add it, to give it more power and recognition helps us all keep the creativity we have inside. Each child and adult learns differently and the larger variety of opportunities we offer, the better.”

The event kept the future leaders busy with several interactive activity stations such as an assembly line, where the kids took apart and reassembled ballpoint pens. Another popular activity was the cup tower station. A small group formed amongst the youth who worked together to make an extreme tower, so tall the kids were barely visible behind their structure.  Laughter and surprised expressions such as ‘woah’ and the occasional ‘wait, how’d you do that?’ were heard from the youngsters as they experimented together, eagerly bouncing from station to station. And drawing the largest crowd was a hands-on art project presented by the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett.

“Today we are creating a nature-scape,” explains Jennifer of the Creative Arts Department at the Imagine Children’s Museum. “We use recycled materials and other items found in nature to create a scene, like a diorama, found in nature and today we’re focusing on the winter season.”

The children used cotton balls and various items to construct snowy sceneries, which they viewed under a black light to give their diorama a more dramatic, chilling winter look.

The first fifty kids who arrived at the event received free beanbag chairs. The Scholastic book fair was part of the event and Youth Services gave everybody in attendance a free book.

“We want to encourage reading and learning together as a family at home,” says Jessica. “We also want to show that learning can be fun, that there’s different ways to learn and also that studying doesn’t always have to be so stressful. We have to empower our children to be explorers of their own interests. It is our duty to encourage them to find and research all of the possibilities for their future.”

The STEAM and Literacy Night was a success. Tulalip parents and kids are already inquiring about the follow-up to the action-packed, hands-on learning event, to which Youth Services promises there will many more during the new year.

For more information, please contact Youth Services at (360) 716-4909.