PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– Learning at home has become the new norm and as the end of the school year approaches, OSF HealthCare and its partners have created a new Jump STEAM at Home curriculum that will allow for more offerings and expansion of learning for kids beyond Central Illinois.
The typical STEAM programs are offered during spring and summer either on weekends or through week-long options for young people in grades 5 through 12 to provide hands-on learning at the Jump Trading Simulation and Education Center in Peoria.
Noel Adams, Director of Innovation Lab Programming at Jump Simulation, says OSF has prioritized the safety of children and instructors, so it reimagined its STEAM programs to offer live, online instruction.
“We have definitely recognized, while kids are safe at home, parents are looking for activities to engage them. These at-home, healthcare-focused STEAM activity kits will offer an opportunity to engage in an online version of Jump STEAM through an interactive video call. These experiences will walk learners through the activity, as well as allow them to ask questions of the experts,” she explained.
Adams says through its partnership with the Illinois College of Medicine and OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, OSF uses trained educators with a background in a variety of health-related fields to offer an exciting menu of fun, interactive classes that convey concepts focusing on Science, Engineering, Technology, Art and Math. Jump STEAM at Home classes will use the videoconferencing platform Zoom to allow kids from across the country to participate and interact with classmates.
“Kids with interest in health care and STEAM have come from as far away as California for our sessions. Having these at-home kits and providing an opportunity for all children regardless of location to experience our programming is an exciting opportunity,” according to Adams.
The STEAM at Home kits can be mailed or picked up at the Jump Simulation and Education Center in Peoria. The kit will include all materials as well as a workbook. Lessons will have components for grade and high school levels and will be age-appropriate for each group.
Shannon Egli will be teaching the first lesson, a shark dissection, which will begin with a focus on lab safety and personal protective equipment (PPE) and then a transition into shark anatomy.
“What’s kind of cool is that because we’re all vertebrates, we have the same organ systems. We have hearts that are very similar but very different so we walk the kids through all of the human parts and then show them how it’s a little bit different or very similar in a shark. It is really kind of a transition into dissection and experiencing the weird but cool world of science. We really want to encourage them to go into the health sciences when they grow up but any science interest is still great. We really want to get them interested in biology and anatomy,” he said.
Egli thinks parents will be excited to have an option for instruction that goes beyond what they’ve been able to give kids who have been learning at home.
According to Egli, “One of the cool things is that they’ll be able to do some hands-on activities that they wouldn’t normally be able to do at home. Parents are doing a great job teaching their kids at home but most don’t have experience dissecting, so this gives parents a little break from teaching all on their own and gives kids a chance to do something fun that’s a little bit out of the box of what they’ve been doing the last month or two.”
Parents will need to be nearby to supervise their child and Egli encourages them to participate as well so they can intervene when it seems kids are confused or falling behind. Egli says teaching younger students online will pose some challenges.
“It will raise some challenges, like how I normally help them do a cut with my own hands if they need it. On the upside of this, it’ll help me with my skills because I’ll have to be better at describing things or being technically specific on how to do something,” Egli shared.
Egli oversees the daily activities of the Anatomical Lab at Jump Simulation, where he instructs medical students from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center. He thinks that makes him uniquely positioned to encourage his at-home students who show an interest in medicine.
“If we get students who are interested in going on to med school, I can talk to them about the process, what they will experience all the way to med school, and help them understand what they would be looking at doing.” He added, “I can teach them a little bit about the way we teach medical students, and at the same time, we can talk about some simulations we do here at Jump with some of the actual doctors and nurses.”
PNC has provided ongoing support for STEAM programs including STEAM at Home which also extends learning options for patients at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Learn more about the classes, available scholarships, and register online here.