I may not have realized it, but STEAM in the Park has been a dream of mine my entire life. As a young girl, I remember taking family camping trips every summer. I fished at the beach and in mountain streams, hiked trails, listened to ranger talks, watched the bears go through our coolers while I sat in our camper. My family would sit around the campfire singing, telling tall tales and roasting marshmallows. I learned so much from those moments in the wild.
My paw-paw was also a Park Superintendent, so spending time in National Parks has been a lifelong activity for me.
As an adult my husband and I continued to spend summers in the mountains with my family. After our daughters were born we quickly introduced them to the great outdoors. We enjoyed countless camping trips playing in streams, fishing, hiking, eating s'mores and using nature to introduce a sense of wonder and curiosity by exploring and finding creative ways to solve problems.
As a teacher I realized that getting students and teachers out of the classroom and introducing them to experiential learning could be life and career changing.
For years I wondered: could we combine my lifelong experiences into an opportunity for educators to connect, collaborate, and create?
Well, we proved that we could! From July 16th - 19th, 2021, the first STEAM in the PARK event was held at the Schoodic Institute in Acadia National Park. Over 30 educators from 15 states came together to explore the great outdoors, sit around the campfire and listen to stories and sing songs, hike through the woods, explore tidal pools to learn more about the invasive green crab and come up with practical ways to eradicate them. We learned how to notice the small things in nature and capture them on paper. We connected literacy to nature and the parks and even used decorating cookies to show that it is possible to use fun activities to further our learning.
These campers accepted the challenge to go back to their communities and become ambassadors of STEAM in the Park and Expeditions in Education and to create content for their students to help them realize and fulfill their dreams!
This summer we are taking over 200 educators to 8 National Parks around the country. Follow us at #STEAMinthePARK to learn with us.