When John Glenn Elementary fourth grade teacher Jarrett Bertog applied for the STEM Scale-Up Program Making STEM Connections provided by the Science Center of Iowa, he was looking for ways to incorporate hands-on STEM learning into his classroom curriculum. He hadn’t imagined that it would turn into a school-wide makerspace. 

Bertog received this STEM Scale-Up Program award for implementation during the 2018-2019 academic year. After implementing the materials in his classroom during the school year and some experimentation, a STEM committee was formed with other educators and the school administration. When a section reduction freed up space in the school building, the STEM committee came up with a vision for incorporating a makerspace using the STEM Scale-Up Program materials.

With help from fellow educators, first grade teacher Shelly Harmsen and sixth grade teacher Sam Nichols, the available space was transformed into a collaborative learning environment where educators and students can look at education a little differently. Stations were created in the makerspace featuring a sewing machine, hand tools, robotics components, circuit materials, among others. Educators reserve the makerspace for various lessons. A coding club has been created and regularly utilizes the space as well.

Bertog has noticed a new buzz around STEM at the school. Students are taking on a problem-solving mindset and are excited to have the opportunity to access the makerspace.

“There are so many ways for students to explore learning, not just visually and audibly. My hope is to continue to shift curriculum to allow opportunities for more hands-on learning experiences,” said Bertog.

To learn more about the STEM Scale-Up Program and how to apply for a program for your school or educational organization, visit  www.IowaSTEM.gov/scale-up . The STEM Scale-Up Program menu and application for the 2020-2021 academic year will be available in January.