Holmes Students Advocate for Afterschool Program

The Holmes delegation of Jakobi Davis, Zoe Edgington, Lillie Fitzgerald, Jacob Smothers, Lily Watson, Noah Weigel, Dan Bower and David Welter meet with Representatives Bob Kressig and Timi Brown-Powers in the House Chambers.

Six Holmes students joined their ECHOES After School program coordinator Dan Bower and recently retired Holmes Principal David Welter as they traveled to the State Capitol in Des Moines on February 14 and 15. The trip was part of a STEM awareness initiative hosted by the Iowa After School Alliance. Holmes students demonstrated a number of STEM related activities which they participate in during the Holmes ECHOES Afterschool Makerspace program. The ECHOES Afterschool program has been offering students Afterschool opportunities in the Cedar Falls Jr. High schools since 2001.

Makerspaces are community centers with tools. They combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.

Makerspaces represent the democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education. They are a fairly new phenomenon, but are beginning to produce projects with significant national impacts. The Cedar Valley Makers at the John Deere TechWorks building have partnered with Holmes Jr. High to help create their Makerspace. STEM activities in the Makerspace include 3D modeling and printing, apps, software and web-based tools, graphic design, robotics and electronics, stitching, video production and writing. Holmes students demonstrated a number of those activities for legislators at the Capitol.

Holmes students Jakobi Davis, Zoe Edgington, Lillie Fitzgerald,  Jacob Smothers, Lily Watson and Noah Weigel visited with local legislators at the Capitol on the 14th and the 15th. Local legislators who stopped by to visit and view the demonstrations included Representatives Walt Rogers, Bob Kressig, Timi Brown-Powers, Ras Smith, Senator Jeff Danielson as well as a number of other legislators from across the State. While demonstrating their skills, the students also shared with the legislators the importance of the Afterschool program in their education experience. Some of the benefits of participating in Afterschool STEM and Extended learning programs shared by the students included:

» Providing students opportunities to further develop their STEM content knowledge and practice, while providing chances to reflect on that learning.

» Promoting strong relationships among peers and with adults.

» Connecting students’ learning to the broader world.

    » Prioritizing youth voice and choice, while empowering students to take on leadership roles.

    » Encouraging students to learn by discovery and independent exploration.

The STEM Active Learning Initiative is a partnership between the Iowa Afterschool Alliance and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council Active Learning Community Partners Working Group. To meet our future workforce demands, it is critical that we support the next STEM-smart generation. Informal learning environments such as the Holmes and Peet ECHOES programs provide a wealth of untapped potential for meaningful engagement opportunities for youth in STEM as part of the workforce solution.

Legislators were encouraged to support After School programing as a cost effective way to engage and motivate students with their learning. STEM learning is a very important part of training our future work force in the State of Iowa as well as providing interesting and engaging hands on choices for students. 

Legislators were encouraged to consider three factors when discussions of After School STEM initiatives occur at the Capitol.

     » Maintain Iowa Code section 256.26: the Before and After School Grant Program.

     » Support language for afterschool and STEM in Iowa’s ESSA Implementation Plan.

     » Prioritize afterschool and summer programming in STEM initiatives funded or overseen by the State.

To learn more about the Holmes Afterschool Makerspace program and Cedar Valley Makers, click on the links below: