(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – In early 2017, a new nonprofit launched with a goal to bring more children’s activities to Tuscarawas County.
After conducting a small survey, they had found that many parents and caregivers in the area felt a real lack in what was available for their children. STEAM Centers was formed to work towards filling that gap in accessible and inclusive programs for children in early childhood.
“What we saw from our survey, which had around 120 responses, was that parents saw that there wasn’t much diversity in the kinds of activities for their kids,” says Sam Wottle, STEAM Centers board chair. “Over 80% of the parents either felt that activities were very limited, or expressed a desire for something more. And not one person responded that a children’s museum was not something good for our community.”
The long-term goal of STEAM Centers is to open a permanent children’s museum, targeting birth to age 6, to begin with. But until that facility becomes a reality, they are committed to bringing more activities to children in the community today. STEAM Centers currently operates a Pop-Up Museum that sets up primarily at community events and in public spaces and features interactive exhibits designed to stimulate children in developmentally appropriate ways. Following the core concept areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and music, the exhibits are designed to encourage child-led play, which leads to the development of fundamental skills; decision-making, conflict management, and problem –solving to name a few. When children can begin establishing those skills during their formative years, research shows that a foundation is established for continued growth at later ages.
“Play is just so very, very important for young kids, all kids. And play looks different for different children, which is why we really need to give them a free reign in how and what they want to explore. If the environment is safe, and the things they are playing with are safe, encourage them to take the lead, instead of stepping in and doing it for them. The worst that happens is they fail, and then they can learn something,” adds Wottle.
Starting with make-and-takes, and then the Pop-Up Museum, STEAM Centers has created play opportunities for over 1300 children in Tuscarawas County since March 2017. They are currently finishing their run of pop-ups for 2018, and are planning to expand in 2019. For more information on STEAM Centers, please visit their website at www.steamcenters.org.
In an exclusive partnership with Newsymom.com, each month STEAM Centers will provide new tips, ideas, activities, and projects to try with your family!