PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Ellie Schwab from Glasford is learning about chemical reactions and the human heart, but she’s not at school.
Ellie, 9, is recovering from spina bifida surgery at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. She mixed together two solutions to create a solid heart-shaped object on Wednesday under the guidance of Sister M. Pieta, innovation engineer with JUMP Simulation and Education Center, which creates activities for students to learn about the healthcare industry.
“When we mix them together, it changes color, and it produces heat, so it’s called an exothermic reaction,” Pieta explained to Ellie.
JUMP engineers offer the OSF STEAM Program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) directly to hospitalized patients through bedside activities.
“It helps her learn, it keeps her mind busy and off of all the medical things she needs to grow,” said Ellie’s mother Stacie Schwab.
Stacie said they are constantly at the hospital, as her daughter has had eight surgeries since birth. The STEAM activities make all the difference for the Illini Bluffs third grader.
“It keeps her learning, but they also have the teachers here that come into the room and they help her with her homework. They send the homework to the teachers. They do a really amazing job so she doesn’t fall behind in school while she’s here,” she said.
Becky Dailey, teacher at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois, said it’s important for students to keep up with schoolwork while at the hospital.
“It’s important for academic reasons of making sure they are completing work. I always tell kids we want to keep their brain moving here. So we try to create routines with them, check in daily, do some type of enrichment activity daily,” she said.
Ellie said art is her favorite part of STEAM.
“I like to learn and do art stuff like that. I love to learn new things about that stuff so it makes me feel pretty good,” she said.
Dailey said the goal of the program is to inspire children to go into the medical field.
“The more exposure the kids have to all these opportunities, it will get more people into the healthcare industry, which is huge right now,” she said.
The OSF STEAM Program is also offered through community partnerships, including the Friendship House in Peoria. The goal is bring STEAM education to as many young people as possible.
November 8 is National STEAM Day, a day for children to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math.