Today WITF announced that central Pennsylvania families seeking a fun, educational experience at home can join the free “Summer STEM Adventure!” beginning July 1. Based on the “Engineering By Design” curriculum, the “summer camp at home” guides families through a combination of PBS KIDS television programs, discussion questions, structured craft activities and career exploration for children in kindergarten through fourth grade. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education is a student-centered approach that encourages development of skills such as problem solving, curiosity, communication and design thinking.
WITF, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Intermediate Units (IUs) 12, 13 and 15, partnered to provide the summer camp in a format that sparks interest in STEM and its related careers, supports different styles of learning, removes obstacles to participation, and meets educational objectives in a rewarding way.
“WITF is proud to partner with our local intermediate units to create this innovative outreach. We are excited for families to play and learn together this summer!” said Debbie Riek, WITF director of education.
The IUs recognized one obstacle to participation could be that families do not have craft resources or broadcast television signals at home. To overcome the challenge, WITF assembled 3,000 “Grab and Go” resource bags and 300 antennas for IUs to distribute to partner locations that serve families directly.
Each free resource bag contains pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons, colored pencils, paper plates, construction paper, safety scissors, a glue stick and the curriculum packet with instructions in English and Spanish.
“Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) has always had a great relationship with WITF for various educational programming. Collaborating with our IU colleagues at Lincoln IU 12 and Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13, we were able to reach even more students this past spring,” said Susan Voigt, CAIU’s educational services supervisor. “The Summer STEM Adventure activities and packets gave us an opportunity to continue engaging students across the eight-county region. It truly was a team effort to pull this together, and we have developed a strong partnership that I hope will last indefinitely!”
During the eight-week camp, families watch featured PBS KIDS programs like “Wild Kratts,” and “Hero Elementary” on WITF TV to learn about animal habitats, camouflage, mimicry, structure and more. A discussion guide and key vocabulary help caregivers talk to their children about what they are watching.
Then, families work together on an animal habitat design project using the materials in the “Grab and Go” bags. The curriculum also includes introductions to STEM careers for young learners, a suggested book list and links to extension STEM games and activities online.
The partners hope that participation in the “Summer STEM Adventure!” brings many positive outcomes for children and their families. Educational goals for the program include: learning about design principles, engaging in family conversations that help develop social and emotional skills, practicing making inferences, reflecting on content, discussing details, and exploring careers.
IUs will distribute the 3,000 “Grab and Go” bags and 300 antennas to the following partner school districts and locations:
- Bermudian Springs
- Lincoln Charter School
- West York
- Upper Adams
- York Academy Regional Charter School
- School District for the City of York
- LIU Early Childhood Classrooms
- School District of Lancaster
- Penn Manor School District
- Steelton-Highspire Elementary (Salvation Army of Harrisburg)
- Susquehanna Township School District
- Harrisburg School District
- Camp Curtin YMCA
Any families that do not receive a “Grab and Go” bag but are interested in participating in “Summer STEM Adventure!” can access the activity sheets, book list and extension activities online at witf.org/stem.
WITF is a trusted provider of public media news and programming for approximately 2.3 million people in 19 counties of central Pennsylvania, encouraging children and adults to Live Inspired®. A member station of PBS and NPR, WITF children’s programming includes public television on WITF TV, WITFK PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and the PBS KIDS app. Other services include an English and Spanish website for caregivers of early learners at ready.witf.org, an EITC program Explore in the Classroom, WITF Kids Club and a variety of free family events that bring PBS KIDS Characters, STEAM activities and families together. WITF’s mission is to strengthen our communities by connecting us to each other and to opportunities for lifelong learning. For more information, visit witf.org.
About Intermediate Units (IUs)
Intermediate Units are entrepreneurial, highly skilled, technology-rich, and agile providers of costeffective, instructional, and operational services to school districts, charter schools, and over 2,400 nonpublic and private schools. Additionally, intermediate units are direct providers of quality instruction to over 50,000 Pennsylvania students.
Over the years, intermediate units have responded to a wide array of needs as they developed in schools and communities throughout the state. Today, intermediate units continue to fulfill their mission of service by addressing traditional and emerging needs, serving as essential links for learning in Pennsylvania, and as a liaison between local schools and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Pennsylvania’s 29 intermediate units were established in 1971 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to operate as regional educational service agencies to provide cost-effective, management-efficient programs to Pennsylvania school districts. Learn more about the focus of Pennsylvania’s intermediate units, click here.
About Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU)
Located in Enola, the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) has classrooms and program locations throughout Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and northern York counties in South-Central Pennsylvania. The CAIU provides innovative support and services in partnership with schools, families, and communities to build capacity and model courageous leadership to help them be great. Visit www.caiu.org for more information.