Throughout her years as an educator, Norwood Elementary School’s principal Pat Goldys knows how much kids enjoy buses and vehicles that bring experiences to their home neighborhoods. Think of ice cream trucks and the Read Rover.
With that as inspiration, last year staff at the Dundalk school designed the Norwood STEAM Project Bus, a vehicle which travels once a week to three different neighborhoods and features five booths for children and parents/caregivers to do different experiments together. Adults may also speak with a social worker to discuss concerns.
The school’s leadership team knew a new way to reach out to families was called for when they tracked the number of families who could not make it to learning events after regular school hours. “We needed to make learning fun, convenient, and close to home for our busy families,””Goldys said. “We are a Title 1 school and wanted equality for all students.”
Some of the experiments include making different sized bubble wands to produce various shapes, picking items out of the grass or ground and looking at them under microscopes, magnifying and comparing salt and sugar structures and building multiple structures out of LEGOs. “It’s like learning has come full circle,” Goldys said. “It’s not just about kids learning. It’s about families learning together.”
This school year, other area schools will also be using the bus to go to neighborhoods in their districts. “I’m very happy that other schools will be able to partake,” Goldys said. “It’s a classroom on wheels.”