krista hardy

In a digital world, innovation is everything. And as technology advances, it’s important to encourage the innovative minds of younger generations. One way this is being accomplished is through the promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in elementary schools.

And more often than not, students are encouraged to be innovative thinkers by innovative leaders.

STEM in Elementary Schools

At Tomahawk Elementary in Olathe, Kan., one of these innovative leaders is Library Media Specialist Krista Hardy. Hardy uses her role in the school to promote interactive STEM education for all students.

“STEM is such a great way to have students active and focused in a student-centered learning environment,” she said. “Students have more of an opportunity to be engaged with questioning, collaboration, problem-solving and hands-on activities when doing STEM-type activities.”

Hardy finds STEM education for young students to be more than an added extra or bonus to their education. In fact, she explains that it’s absolutely essential.

“We are increasing our focus on a Makerspace initiative in our library program at Tomahawk Elementary School,” Hardy said. “The library is the hub of our building, and every student visits the library each week. It seemed fitting to put our resources where every student would have access to enhance their learning opportunities.”

For Hardy, it was crucial to begin incorporating STEM education as part of the regular curriculum, but the resources weren’t available … until she partnered with Grantham University.

Partnering to Support STEM Education

Hardy was able to team up with Grantham’s College of Engineering and Computer Technology to provide elementary students the opportunity to gain essential STEM skills they can apply to their education.

With an Ozobot Kit donation from Grantham University, the students at Tomahawk Elementary will be able to combine the technical aspects of STEM education with their creativity and become independent, innovative thinkers in their school’s Makerspace.

Because of this donation, “the students will gain a knowledge of coding using color sequences and Blockly coding [through] the Ozobots. By working with coding, I hope that our students will benefit from logical thinking, problem-solving, communication and collaboration,” Hardy said.

In a world where technology meets creativity, students should have the opportunity to understand that STEM education is not cold, confining or limiting. With the right resources, students will be able to make the connection between creative collaboration and technology.

For these students, this hands-on experience with coding is not something they would typically get anywhere else.

“This donation is a wonderful start to our Makerspace/STREAM initiative in the library. This opens up the students to the world of STEM using miniature robotics,” Hardy said.

The goal of Tomahawk Elementary’s Makerspace initiative is to incorporate as many learning opportunities as possible for all students. The intention is for students to be able to construct, experiment, invent, design, research and explore to encourage their development of strong critical thinking skills.

“By incorporating STEM into the elementary school, we are promoting innovative thinking for our students. This type of learning will help provide opportunities for authentic growth, development and creativity in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Hardy said. “This is our future and we need to help prepare our students with a strong foundation in STEM.”

Encouraging the Next Wave of Innovative Tech Leaders

As a 100% online institution, Grantham University has seen firsthand how innovative technology can be used to encourage people to reach goals they didn’t think were possible through the traditional route. With online degrees ranging from nursing to electronics engineering technology, students can take advantage of distance learning to earn an accredited, competitive degree without jeopardizing their other commitments.

Technology can provide flexibility and convenience without compromising quality. And with a new wave of innovative thinkers applying the creativity and critical thinking skills they’ve been developing since elementary school, the possibilities for opportunity are endless.

“We are so excited about this generous gift of Ozobots from Grantham University,” Hardy said. “The Ozobots will give our students opportunities to explore robotics and coding at various levels. We appreciate Dr. Nancy Miller and Grantham University’s generosity of a classroom set to be used in our STEM/Makerspace at Tomahawk Elementary School.”

Apply at Grantham