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Duke grant brings STEM to UC Blue Ash, Sycamore

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Posted at 11:51 AM, Dec 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-05 11:51:51-05

BLUE ASH -- A new grant from the Duke Energy Foundation is expanding a partnership between the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College and Sycamore Community Schools.

UC Blue Ash learned last month it was awarded the grant for $9,500 to support its Stepladder to STEM Education project with Sycamore. The project, which began in 2009, brings elementary school students from Sycamore to the UC Blue Ash campus to learn about subjects related to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

“The goal is to expose more kids to the wonders of some of the STEM programs in a fun way that gets them thinking about these fields for their careers,” said Pete Gemmer, UC Blue Ash director of communications.

Warren Walker, community and government relations manager for Duke Energy, said education, particularly educational programs that emphasize STEM-related subjects, is one of the Duke Energy Foundation’s investment priorities.

“One of the attractive things to us about the Stepladder to STEM Education project was that our funding wouldn’t be supporting only one group of participants,” he said. “It would be supporting both schools and participants of a variety of ages.”

Because of the grant, new programs will be added to the project in 2016, including one run by UC Blue Ash’s pre-health education and dental hygiene departments that will use food as a tool to teach math, science and the role of nutrition to fourth graders, as well as a first-aid program for second graders that will be run by UC Blue Ash’s nursing department.

Adds To Existing Programs

Existing programs that will return in 2016 include an X-ray program for kindergarteners through UC Blue Ash’s radiologic technology department, chemistry reactions and laboratory safety program for third graders through UC Blue Ash’s chemistry department, and a biology program for sixth graders through UC Blue Ash’s biology department.

Sixth graders from Sycamore’s Edwin H. Greene Intermediate have been participating in a biology-focused field trip at UC Blue Ash each year since the spring of 2013, said Elise Allred, the school’s science subject leader.

“These are lab situations I can’t produce here at our building level,” she said. “Kids get introduced to biology and learn about the college experience.”

Education Through Collaboration

Tami Miller, science subject leader at Blue Ash Elementary, said the X-ray program run by UC Blue Ash’s radiologic technology students is a true collaboration.

“The UC students do a great job of making the sessions age appropriate for kindergarteners, and the UC students get to learn how to work with children at the same time,” she said.

The addition of the “First Aid for Second Graders” program marks the first time UC Blue Ash’s nursing department will take part in the Stepladder to STEM Education project with Sycamore, said UC Blue Ash Nursing Department Chair Carla Henderson.

“This grant is making it possible for nursing to be involved in the partnership,” she said. “We felt second graders should be introduced to what constitutes an emergency and the basics of first aid and safety. Plus, our students now can show their skills to kids and teach them the potential of nursing.”

A Thousand Students To Benefit

The new programs likely will roll out in late spring, Gemmer said.

Thanks to the grant, Gemmer said UC Blue Ash expects to serve an estimated 1,000 Sycamore students in kindergarten, second, third, fourth and sixth grades through its Stepladder to STEM Education programs in 2016.

“We’re always looking for ways to expand kids’ experiences and enrich the content they’re learning,” said Blue Ash Elementary Principal Leslie Combs. “What we have with UC Blue Ash is just a perfect partnership.”