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North Tama moms take part in STEM event

May 3, 2012
Traer Star-Clipper

North Tama Elementary was one of 27 sites in the state of Iowa to host a Moms Night Out for STEM event on Monday, April 23 from 6:30-8 p.m. The goal of the evening was to help Moms and other primary caregivers learn about ways to inspire and encourage their children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Parents who get involved in their children's learning and encourage their effort have beneficial effects on their child's achievement. John Deere sponsored Moms Night Out for STEM across the state.

The North Tama event began with an inspiring presentation by two North Tama graduates who are now out working in STEM-related fields. Teresa Witt is the Market Pricing Analyst in the John Deere Power Systems division. She is responsible for maintaining and competitively pricing all drivetrain products, such as transmissions, pump drives and axles, which are sold to their external global market.

Natalie Ivory is an account manager at MobileDemand which sells rugged tablet PC's. She manages the accounts from quoting stage to customer service after they receive the tablets and everything in between. She also manages a number of marketing projects for the company. The two women spoke to the group about important ways to encourage and help their children achieve more in school and in their future careers.

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They shared how important it is to get involved in a variety of activities in school because students gain so many skills and meet so many different people during the experiences. The skills students learn and the people they meet may help them in the future in ways they don't even realize right now.

They also told how important it is for students to take challenging classes in school and push themselves to learn more. The women encouraged parents to speak to their children in positive ways about math and science and not discourage their children with remarks about how they think it is hard or they never did well in them during school. Lastly they reminded parents that it is never too early for their children to get involved and get educated.

After the presentation, the adults had an exciting time engaging in a wide variety of STEM activities in different classrooms in the elementary. Parents had an opportunity to investigate pond water and soil with magnifiers, make Oobleck, take part in different activities to help build communication skills, look over a large selection of STEM books from the Traer Public Library, build straw rockets, and make ice cream.

Many parents commented on how fun the evening was. One parent involved in the evening was Angie Hallett who enthused, "Wow!! What an amazing time. I am probably just as excited to make these things as the kids are!"

Joy Schirmer, an educator from South Tama, appreciated having the opportunity to be part of the event because it gave her great ideas and resources to use with her children.

Tracey Podhajsky shared how she likes new ideas for having fun with her boys, "We are always up for new ideas, new experiences, and new adventures," Podhajsky said.

"I think one of the most important characteristics about STEM is that it makes science technology, engineering and math not so overwhelming," Podhajsky went on to share. She described the projects from the evening as "fairly simple, yet you learn (and are also able to teach your kids) wonderful ways to experience these important areas of what our societal future is going to be. Also, I don't want my kids to be afraid of learning something new. The only thing, really, that can never be taken away from you, is knowledge."



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