Full STEAM ahead for Island group focused on science education

STEAM PEI now a not-for-profit, hopes to reach more students

STEAM PEI ‘edutainer’ Nellie Keating says it’s important to start early when it comes to fostering an interest in science and technology. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC )

It’s not often second graders get to don a lab coat and goggles, and experiment with chemicals. But if the educators behind STEAM PEI have their way, it’s going to start happening a lot more often in Island schools and beyond.

STEAM stands for science, technology engineering, arts and math — the pillars of STEAM PEI’s mission to get kids excited about innovation early, by making learning experiences fun and immersive.

“Usually people don’t start experimenting with chemicals until high school,” said Nellie Keating, who calls herself an “edutainer” with STEAM PEI.

“And often chemistry classes aren’t even mandatory, so it’s really good to be able to get your hands on some more fun, advanced science when you’re young.”

Keating hopes that now that the group is registered as a not-for-profit, it will be able to access a greater variety of funds and reach as many students as possible on the Island. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

The group offers camps, workshops, after-school programs, and more, and has been operating for almost a year.

Newly not-for-profit

The group recently got not-for-profit status, which will help them access more funding and ideally more young minds in further reaches of the province.

“Now that we are a not-for-profit we are going to be able to build more partnerships and move into other schools,” Keating said.

The group is partially funded by owner Amber Jedis, an engineer with a passion for education, and currently has partnerships with WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Atlantic.

Some of the funding comes from fees paid by students to attend the programs, as well as home and school organizations. Keating said one of the goals of becoming a not-for-profit is to access alternative funding sources and reach a wider variety of students.

“With STEAM PEI we want to encourage all kinds of educational processes on P.E.I., and we want to be able to offer it to everyone on P.E.I., people of different statuses and from all walks of life,” said Keating, adding that research shows a lack of representation from women in particular, when it comes to science and technology careers.

“As a non-profit we can get funding from different community and governmental organizations, so it was important to us to move towards not-for-profit as we grow bigger and bigger.”

Content is based around existing Island school curriculum, and intended to supplement learning in classrooms. The group hopes that with its new not-for-profit status, they’ll be able to continue expanding on their workshops and generating new ideas to make science and discovery tangible and enjoyable for young Islanders.

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