The Power of STEM
Thinkerella & Thinkerfella
If you have school-aged children or grandchildren, I would bet that best practices in education are something you consider very important. As parents or grandparents, we share in a common desire to give our young learners the tools they’ll need to navigate and succeed in the future. These days, that translates to far more than simply “depositing” information into students. Rather, there’s an emphasis on tapping into a child’s natural curiosity and imagination and presenting them with opportunities to experiment, create, wonder and problem solve. This awareness has resulted in a heightened focus on the sciences.
You may have heard, the term “STEM” is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. You may also see the term STEAM, which includes the arts. New Orleans children are fortunate to benefit from the expertise of public, charter, parochial and independent schools that recognize the significance of STEM instructional activities. I am proud and excited to be a new faculty member as well as a parent at Sacred Heart, where this focus on education extends all the way from the high school to the 1-year-old students. Teachers collaborate to incorporate interactive student-driven “creation stations” for younger learners and “innovation labs” for older ones into schedule. Stuart Hall, my son’s school, just launched an outdoor Discovery Center for its pre- and lower school students.
If this isn’t yet in place in your child’s school, or your child is seeking additional after-school opportunities, allow me to introduce you to Thinkerella. Founded in 2004 by a local mom, Cherie Melancon Franz, Thinkerella was originally created as a fun, inviting way to draw girls into the sciences. Not long after, as it became clear that boys benefited from and enjoyed the fun learning activities just as much as girls, Thinkerfella was born as well. The program’s focus is to provide enrichment activities that take intricate, multi-faceted scientific content and make it fun and engaging for children. To accomplish this, Thinkerella/Thinkerfella provides hands-on experiments for pre-school, elementary and middle school girls and boys. Thinkerella/Thinkerfella offers workshops at several local schools in a “mobile laboratory” setting. These workshops and experiments are organized for specific grade levels so activities are age-appropriate. Typically, these weekly workshops are either six or 12 weeks long in duration and take place after school at multiple locations in the greater New Orleans area.
Thinkerella/Thinkerfella also offers a unique birthday party for your budding scientist or engineer. Parties are ideal for children ages 3 to 13. The parties can be held indoors or outside at your location choice, or can be hosted at the Thinkerella facilities in Harahan or Mandeville. The activities promise to be educational, engaging and mess-free for all guests. Another bonus, there’s no need to think of a party favor because guests take home all the things they create in the experiments – and their lab coat! The party package includes 12 guests, but more can be added for an additional fee. Thinkerella/Thinkerfella is also a great way for Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts to earn a badge while having a fun time conducting experiments. So bring your dreamer, builder, explorer, inventor or designer, and watch them discover the power of STEM.
Just the Facts
• ThinkerKids Workshops
• Birthday Parties
• Scout Workshops
• In-school Field Trips