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OCO brings STEM to Hannibal After School Program

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
HANNIBAL, NY – Students participating in Oswego County Opportunities’ Rural After School Program (RASP) recently had the opportunity to take part in a special enrichment session that integrated STEM Education.

Reilly Harris (left) and Allyson Donaldson (right), Sixth Grade students at Kenney Middle School in Hannibal, learn how to properly use a microscope during a recent enrichment class during Owego County Opportunities’ Rural After School Program (RASP).
Reilly Harris (left) and Allyson Donaldson (right), Sixth Grade students at Kenney Middle School in Hannibal, learn how to properly use a microscope during a recent enrichment class during Owego County Opportunities’ Rural After School Program (RASP).

Established by Judith A. Ramaley, the former director of the National Science Foundation’s education and human-resources division, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education is designed to revolutionize the teaching of subject areas such as mathematics and science by incorporating technology and engineering into regular curriculum.  STEM Education attempts to transform the typical teacher-centered classroom by encouraging a curriculum that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and require students to actively engage a situation in order to find its solution.

One of the many activities that OCO’s RASP offers is the opportunity to participate in a variety of enrichment sessions such as web design, music, sewing, and science experimentation.  At Kenney Middle School in Hannibal, OCO’s RASP has begun incorporating key concepts and skills from core areas such as Science, English-Language Arts, and Math.  Mrs. Stoddard, a sixth grade, science teacher at Kenney Middle School, has been focusing her lessons on both the physical and biological sciences.  Using the concept of STEM Education, Mrs. Stoddard had her enrichment group partake in a variety of activities centered on microscopes.

“It was a very interesting session on the proper use and care of a microscope that the students truly enjoyed, said Laura Licatese, After School Coordinator with OCO’s Education Services.  “Following an informative presentation, students labeled all the parts of a microscope, being careful to pay close attention to the parts needed to focus the scope.  Afterwards, they watched a quick demonstration on how to effectively use the coarse and fine adjustment knobs with each objective lens to focus in on a specimen.  The session concluded with an exercise where students were able to experiment with the microscopes viewing both prepared slides and various materials of choice.”

Licatese added that throughout the US the growing energy behind STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in schools is influencing after-school communities to provide new learning options. “Many educators feel that early support in the form of engaging, out-of-school activities and programs will foster an interest in STEM subjects.  STEM learning focuses on helping students learn to think critically, solve complex problems, and participate in advancements in science and technology with resulting economic benefits. STEM proponents assert that science and engineering jobs are growing much faster than other occupations, giving STEM school students a potential advantage when competing for high-tech jobs.  The highest-quality programs have the potential to shift attitudes about STEM-related careers, increase test scores and knowledge of STEM subjects, and improve the likelihood of high school graduation and college readiness.  We are pleased to be able to incorporate STEM Education in our RASP,” said Licatese.

In addition to Hannibal, OCO’s Rural After School Program is available at APW Middle School and Fulton Junior. High School.  OCO’s RASP offers students a more social setting than the school day and allows them the opportunity to build healthy relationships with other students and adults.  The smaller groups and informal settings of the program offer the students a chance to succeed academically and personally.  Students are engaged in a number of educational, recreational and enrichment activities, as well as community service activities that allow them to give back to, and feel connected to, their community in a positive way.

“Research has shown that students involved in After School Programs do better both academically and socially as they achieve higher grades, better attendance records and experience overall educational success.  Our staff facilitate a number of groups and activities to aid the participants, including:  Social Support and Community Service Groups; Youth Issues Groups that address violence prevention, pregnancy prevention education, and substance use prevention; Life Skills Training; Recreation Activities; Tutoring and Enrichment Activities,” said Licatese.

Available after each full school day, OCO’s Rural After School Program at Kenney Middle School in Hannibal is held from dismissal until 5:45 p.m.  The program is staffed daily by one senior youth specialist, two youth specialists from OCO, three academic staff members, and two peer specialists who have been trained by RASP staff.

For more information on OCO’s Rural After School Program contact Licatese at 315-598-4711 or via e-mail at [email protected]

OCO, Inc is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966. A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations.  For more information, visit www.oco.org