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Little Audience, Big Ideas: Idaho New School Fellow creates STEAM Learning Opportunities

by Kristen McCarver
Libraries are generally known to be quiet places, but on Early Childhood STEAM Day, when you step through the doors at Caldwell Public Library, an enthusiastic murmur can be heard somewhere to the left.
Idaho New School Fellow Anthony Haskett regularly teams up with the Caldwell Public Library to harness the excitement and energy of 30 preschoolers into free STEAM activities.
This Early Childhood STEAM Day focused on mixtures; preschoolers explored the science behind surface tension with an activity involving milk, food coloring, and dish soap. Anthony mixed in the art concept of color, by asking for predictions on what color the mixture would make once the dish soap was added. Next to this station was the bubble station, which also demonstrated the concept of surface tension.
The concept of a non-Newtonian fluid was introduced with the enduring classic “Ooblek” (cornstarch and water). This was fun for all ages – even some parents were amazed by this shape-shifting substance.
The kids also explored chemical reactions, at stations manned by Fiona May from the Caldwell Public Library and retired teacher and volunteer, Sheryl Morris.  May demonstrated how vinegar and baking soda create a gas, by using the mixture to blow up balloons, and Morris got a great arm workout shaking half-and-half into homemade ice cream (also enjoyed by all ages).
Early Childhood STEAM Day is not just for fun – the goal is to promote kindergarten readiness, by introducing science and art concepts at a young age, and “helping parents understand that they have opportunities within their own homes for teaching and enrichment,” says Haskett.
The events are free, open to all, and have covered a wide array of topics: engineering simple machines, observation, math and counting patterns, and patterns in nature, to name a few.
Although the target audience is young, the concepts are big. As an educator, Anthony presents the material in a fun context, but doesn’t hesitate to use the correct scientific terms and long words. “You can talk to kids at a high level and they will rise to the challenge and understand.”
Anthony will bring this same belief in students’ abilities, and dedication to serving his community to MOSAICS Public School, a proposed K-8 charter school serving the greater Caldwell area with a targeted opening of August 2020, born of the Idaho New School Fellowship.
A lifelong Idahoan from a small, rural community, Anthony understands the power of community and inclusion. He also believes in the power of choice. That’s why he is founding MOSAICS which stands for “Molding Our Scientists & Artists Into Community Stewards.”
The school will be focused on developing 21st-century skills for all students. Emphasizing collaboration, design thinking, and arts integration, the school will use inquiry-based instruction to increase both student engagement and retention of content.
The next Early Childhood STEAM Day will be held April 24th, 2019 and feature patterns in nature.
Join MOSIACS Public School at Early STEM Day on May 18, 2019. It’s a free event for kids ages 0-8 and their families, at Indian creek plaza in Caldwell, full of fun projects and activities.

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