Lately, the future has been uncertain. We wonder how long we’ll wear masks. We wonder how our children will do in school, whether online or in person. We wonder when a vaccine will become available. We wonder what the future holds.
When Beyond School Bells and donor Big Red Keno Science & Math brought a Think Make Create LabTM (TMC) to Family Service Lincoln, the future became clearer and brighter. This little trailer is packed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities. On August 4, when the TMC LabTM paid a visit to Family Service Lincoln, that day was no different.
TMC Labs™ contain activities including tools, cardboard, beads, paints, and much more. These 6×12-foot trailers may be packed to the brim, but their mission is straightforward: to encourage kids to think critically and problem-solve while having fun. All the while, in engaging these activities, kids can develop lifelong STEM skills as the next generation of professionals.
For Melodi Szymczak, Director of Marketing at Big Red Keno, as she watched the children engage in creative, critical-thinking activities, she saw a hopeful future and present.
“I can’t believe how focused these kids are on STEM activities!” Melodi said. “What warmed my heart was that they never complained about wearing a mask and sanitizing their hands!”
Melodi said she felt inspired by the children’s level of engagement. “I’m amazed!” she said. “They want to be creative. One boy made a rocket! You have to have vision to make that out of recycled materials!”
Melodi saw yet another promising sight. She witnessed the next generation of creative, problem-solving job candidates.
“This is the foundation to fuel the future generation to bring to the workforce. The opportunities are endless. It rejuvenates me to see this,” she said.
One child’s junkbot might even be the beginning of his or her future profession. And as you know, careers in STEM can take you rather far. In addition to earning a solid income, STEM has long represented an exciting field of jobs, economic growth, and robust young workforce.
A child can begin an exciting vocation by building a robot or a rocket out of repurposed materials. Beyond School Bells knows that great beginnings make for thriving careers. This dedicated network of afterschool professionals are advocates for quality Expanded Learning Programs (ELOs) across Nebraska so that our youth can turn hours of risk into hours of opportunity.
BSB helped create yet another thriving environment by sponsoring a Think Make Create Lab™ in a series of age-appropriate, stimulating activities! As a partner-driven network, BSB is glad to see Family Service Lincoln, another organization that’s every bit as dedicated to children thriving, in creative action!
TMC LabsTM are a trademarked classroom on wheels that are BSB-branded. These mobile makerspaces are packed with materials for kids to engage in stimulating STEM activities.
Kids can also create Perler bead designs, a fun, budget-friendly material that can be melted down into a small work of art. These beads are also excellent for kids to make pixelated art, so they can recreate their favorite video game images. There’s also a Cardboard Challenge, which allows kids to create anything from a miniature town to a petting zoo to an arcade.
Currently, there are 22 of these mobile makerspaces throughout Nebraska. Like everything we do, these portable learning trailers were created with a purpose: to bring learning to underserved areas, especially those schools and organizations that may be operate on a smaller budget.
TMC LabsTM can also be used for parties, for long periods at schools, or moved around depending on the organization’s needs.
“Big Red is proud to partner with an organization like Beyond School Bells that uses innovative methods to bring STEM to as many kids as possible. The Family Service Lincoln TMC LabTM is the fifth mobile learning lab we have funded for organizations in the Lincoln and Omaha area. It has been more successful than we could have ever imagined.” said Nick Thielen, Executive Vice President for EHPV Management (parent organization for Big Red Keno) and Board Member for Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.