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LA GRANDE, Ore. – A pandemic-era STEM curriculum will serve 2,200 4th graders when STEM week kicks off May 8. The Eastern Oregon University football team was on hand to pack the thousands of boxes that needed to be sent to area schools.
On Saturday morning, April 15, members of the EOU football squad reported to the facilities building on the EOU campus to assemble boxes that would be shipped to 52 elementary schools in seven counties across eastern Oregon. Each box contains three STEM challenges: a catapult, a gravity racer, and a geometric structure developed by PITSCO Education. Additionally, 4,400 snacks were donated by Sodexo Catering Services at EOU. EOU Shipping and Receiving and the GO STEM Staff were crucial in the success of this effort, as well.
According to the Executive Director of the Greater Oregon STEM Hub, David Melville, the project began three years ago during the pandemic when he wanted to get the science curriculum into the hands of 4th-grade students working from home. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math.
“Fourth grade is the sweet spot when kids are reading to learn,” Melville said. “They begin to have autonomy about what they are learning, which is a great opportunity to introduce STEM possibilities and expand interests.”
The original project was funded with The Oregon Community Foundation COVID relief funds but was so successful Melville looked for a sponsor and found one with Amazon Web Services.
“The EOU football team has been instrumental in the success of this program,” Melville said. “Each year they come out and pack these boxes, giving over a hundred hours of their own time, three years running!”
To increase the accessibility of the project, Melville said the instructions are provided in both English and Spanish.
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