Sophie, a fourth grader at Eisenhower Elementary in Hopkins, Minn., carefully balanced a heavy book on a tower created from just construction paper and tape. For a moment, she doubted her creation. Then she watched it hold steady.
“Yay, I did it!” she exclaimed.
It was just one of many activities at her school’s family STEM night, sponsored by Discovery Education and UnitedHealthcare.
A UnitedHealthcare grant funded Discovery Education’s online curriculum and resources at dozens of Minneapolis/St. Paul area schools. Volunteers with UnitedHealthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well.” employee volunteer initiative were also on hand to help lead the STEM activities.
Discovery Education operates with a mission to prepare students for future success by connecting them to the world outside the classroom.
UnitedHealthcare joined the effort with the understanding that STEM education — which stands for science, technology, engineering and math — may help boost healthier behaviors and health outcomes later in life. STEM education can help create a strong foundation beyond the classroom to one day help kids understand and navigate more complex issues, like the health care system, in order to make well-informed decisions.
“Because kids are the best teachers, and they'll be the ones that give those lessons right back to their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone around them,” said Brett Edelson, UnitedHealthcare CEO of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Building a successful STEM foundation is essential in the eyes of Hopkins Public Schools Superintendent Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, who believes STEM programs help students shift towards the future of learning, with innovation and 21st-century skills at the forefront.
“Discovery Education is a tool that can level the playing field and provide students with equitable access to rich, relevant, up-to-date content because our students have come from different backgrounds and they have different needs,” she said. “Learning should be fun and elevate student’s imaginations, help students feel like they are problem solvers.”