Tri River Area CSU Extension - To provide information, education and to encourage the application of research-based knowledge to the communities of Delta, Mesa, Montrose, and Ouray Counties.

Dec 31st – A STEM Year in Review

2020 has been quite the year! From politics to pandemic, it seems there has never been a day when there wasn’t something new to capture our attention and get us worrying about what the future would bring.

However 2020 brought many good memories and changes as well, and I think it is always important to reflect on the positives of life!

February: This month I participated in a couple fun events including:

4 unique swab dishes with Bacterial Cultures (1 week after swabbing!)

1. Teaching Kindergartners about Germs

4 classes of Johnson Elementary kindergartners were able to swab their classrooms and grow bacteria cultures. This lesson helped students identify dirty areas and find solutions to making these areas more “germ free”.

2. Mesa County Safety Fair

The CSU STEM Energy Trailer

With help from our Mesa County 4-H Agent, we spent two days at the Mesa Mall meeting with over 1500 3rd-5th graders. We showed them alternative energy forms and had a ton of hands on activities for kids to experiment safely with different energy components. Thanks again to our sponsoring partner Grand Valley Power for inviting us to join them at this past year’s fair!

March: March began as a fun month…

1. Working with kindergartners on Plant Science

Dr. Barb talking about Plant Parts

Oak Grove invited us into the classroom to talk with kindergartners about the exciting science behind plants! Along with my colleague Dr. Barbara Shaw, we were able to show students the parts of a plant (both in diagram and with a hands on plant dissection) and helped kids make their own plant in a bag seed experiment.

But March also brought to us the reality of COVID-19, and as of mid-month…I was working virtually from home…

Summer: Over the course of the summer, my brain had to switch from in person programming to virtual programs. It took a while to get a vision focus, but with the help of my coworkers Dr. Barb and Andrew Reed, we were able to start producing STEMing at home videos. These videos walked through easy STEM activities kids to could at home while ‘Stay at Home’ was in effect…and thereafter! Over the course of 4 months, we produced over 20 different STEM videos, all still available for viewing on our YouTube channel STEMing with Steph!

The Shell Less Egg Experiment paired with Osmosis fun!

Summer also paired us up with the Montrose Public Library as part of their summer reading program. STEM provided the library with STEM in a Bag activities that could be handed out to kids at home for the summer. All bags included 1 STEM activity with supplies and directions. We fixed up over 600+ bags over the course of 4 weeks!

STEM in a Bag activities all ready to head to the Library for delivery!
Delta Life Skills Class – Learning to Bead!

Fall: In the fall we finally were able to come back to the office to work. I was still limited to mostly virtual programming, but I still managed to partner with the Delta Life Skills girls program to continue to teach home economic education. That group has expanded from 5 to 15 girls since its creation in 2018!

Live Streamed Chick Hatching!

Also exciting for fall was the successful production of 5 baby chicks through Pomona Elementary’s 3rd grade class led by Mrs. Franks. From late October to Mid November, 3rd graders learned all about the life cycle of a chick and were able to watch the process of incubation in the classroom. Through candling eggs, viewing daily videos, and studying different aspects of chicken production, students gained an appreciation of life cycles! The chicken hatching was also streamed live for 2 days with over 5000 views on our Facebook page STEM/k12 Programs – TRA Extension.

Winter: December has been pretty slow, but it has given me a chance to reflect on all the good that did happen in 2020. As I look back, I am so thankful for the family and friends I have, for my husband (who I celebrated 1 year of marriage to!), my step daughter, our home, jobs, and all the positives that happened this year.

We may not be in the clear yet, but I am thankful for 2020 and I look forward to what 2021 will bring for my Family and for the people I get to work with! May you take time today to reflect on the year gone past, and renew your hope that the future, whatever it brings, will be the best you make it to be!

Happy News Years my peeps! I will see you in 2021!

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