JACKSON TWP.  While Lake Cable kindergarten teachers are excited about the recent Jackson Local Schools Foundation (JLSF) grant they received to purchase STEAM Bins, the students are even more excited to have the science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) projects to work on during class.

The kindergarten team at Lake Cable include five teachers: Rae Russel, Sarah Buck, Katelyn Bordwell, Nicole Reifsnyder and Jenna Pratt. The teachers received a grant last year for $1,818 from the Foundation along with a grant for $500 from Sunbeams through Malone University. They used those two grants to purchase Fine-Motor Morning Work Bins.

This year, their grant from the foundation was $2,178. They are using some materials from last year’s grant to add to the materials they purchased with this year’s grant to build the STEAM Bins.

Impact on Students

Students get to choose what to work on when they are in small group instruction in English language arts and math classes. The STEAM Bins contain items such as Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks, Gears! Gears! Super Building set, Zoomy handheld digital microscope, 100-piece set of magnet building tiles, Hot Wheels cars, light tables, Legos and Constructive Playthings among other items.

"The bins look different in each classroom, some teachers have the items located in drawers in a desk, others have baskets or bins to hold the items," Pratt said. "The kids love working with the items. It’s their time for trial and error when working with the bins. Part of what we want to achieve is to let them learn that they can make mistakes and come back and be successful."

The teachers said there are many lessons the students learn from working together or individually with the bins.

"The impact on the kids is that they get time to build, explore, manipulate and create while they think they are playing," Reifsnyder said. "The are learning important skills such as critical thinking, team building and how to become a lifelong learner. Plus, it builds resilience by learning from their mistakes when building or creating."

Grant Impacts Learning

The kindergarten teachers said they couldn’t have been able to put together the STEAM Bins and provide their students extra learning opportunities without the being able to apply for the grant.

"We couldn’t have done this project without the Foundation grant," Russel said. "We couldn’t have purchased the items in the bins or offer the kids another way to learn STEAM or build the skills working with the bins offer."

"We’re grateful for the grants from the JLSF and that these grants support the teachers in the community. Members of the JLSF board encourage the teachers to apply for the grants.  We’ve been able to purchase items with the grant that we can use year after year with our students," added Pratt.

All of the teachers say its helpful to have the JLSF as a grant resource because it’s not always easy to find grants to help them with projects.

"These grants from the Foundation are to help our kids," Buck said. "I know all of us can’t wait to see what our kids build and how they use their creativity. If we can give them what they need, they will soar."