The Impact of my LeRoy Finkel Fellowship — Featuring the Voice of Kim Calderon

WOW!! It’s almost been a year since I found out I was a finalist for the LeRoy Finkel Fellowship! Participating in the contest was one of the greatest experiences and really served as a catapult for me pursuing my mission of getting more STEM into elementary schools. I think one of the best parts of participating was getting to hear everyone’s ideas for what they would do with the money. It was really inspiring and made me want to do more with my students. After winning the Fellowship I found out that my district was going to match the $2,500 award, so now I had $5,000 to develop my STEM Friends (formerly STEM Buddies) program with our elementary school.

kids and slime

Kids at play making slime with STEM Friends.

We started by making slime with kindergarteners and teaching them about chemical reactions. Both the kindergartners and 8th graders had a blast and I’m sure the parents loved it as well.  About a month later we went back and made bottle rockets and taught about potential and kinetic energy. We purchased an extra launcher so we launched 2 rockets at once which was so much fun. Our last trip, we taught coding with Ozobots. I was able to purchase 60 Ozobots so each Friends pair was able to program their own. Both groups of students had a lot of fun and learned a lot from our visits.

 

The LeRoy Finkel Fellowship is a great opportunity to put your ideas out there, make connections, and get your dream to be a reality in your district and others.

This year we have already gone over and taught scientific method with a bubble lab and some engineering skills with building towers. We are also planning a Kindergarten STEM Day where my older students set up and run stations that the Kinders go through. The plan is to extend this the following year to include 1st and 2nd grade as well.

The Fellowship really inspired me to do more with STEM Friends and shortly after the CUE Conference I submitted it as my Google Innovator Project, and it was accepted! I am so excited to continue developing the STEM Friends program not only in my district but also working to make the model accessible to all schools. The LeRoy Finkel Fellowship is a great opportunity to put your ideas out there, make connections, and get your dream to be a reality in your district and others.

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