STEM Club Inspires Tempe Elementary Girls to Achieve Their Dreams
On Wednesday afternoons at Wood Elementary, you won’t find all kids lining up to go home after the schoolbell rings. Third-Grade Teacher Brittany Barnes opens up her classroom door to welcome students into her STEM Robotics afterschool club. With computers, robots, toolkits, and more, the classroom transforms into a “makerspace” for kids to explore, imagine, and create.
Although the club welcomes both boys and girls in third- through fifth-grade, the club has been steadily growing interest in young girls year after year. Now in its fifth year, the STEM Robotics Club at Wood Elementary has girls making up the majority.
“It’s really cool to see girls so excited about STEM,” said Barnes. “I think it’s a great opportunity for girls interested in science and math to come together by joining this club.”
As student council president, Fifth-Grader Keeley McGinley is especially proud to be a member of the STEM Robotics Club. McGinley has encouraged many of her friends to join and is proud to highlight this club as something she will never forget about being a student at Wood Elementary.
“Ms. Barnes is one of my favorite teachers and she was why I originally decided to join the club,” said McGinley. “But once I got here, I realized that I really love engineering. I’ve always thought I could be an engineer in the future, but I definitely want to be one now!”
Cianna Rivera, another fifth-grader at Wood Elementary, echoed McGinley’s response by also hoping to be an engineer one day when she grows up.
“My mom is an engineer and I could definitely see myself pursuing this career,” said Rivera. “This club allows us to really express ourselves and it requires a lot of teamwork, which is really important in my life.”
Many of the girls return year after year to join the afterschool club contribute to the success of growing membership. This year, fifth-graders don’t have to worry about not being able to return to STEM Robotics thanks to a new partnership that Wood Elementary has developed with neighboring Fees College Preparatory Middle School.
Barnes has connected with Fees College Prep STEM Teacher Christa Tropin to bring middle school and elementary school students together. Middle school students are awarded the opportunity to mentor and provide feedback to their new elementary school friends at Wood.
Mariah Estrella, sixth-grade student at Fees College Prep, is one of the students excited to be back at her elementary school to rejoin the STEM Robotics Club. This year marks her fourth year as a member.
“I’ve always loved science and making things,” said Estrella. “Coming to this club really makes me love it more.”
When asked if she enjoys being around kids younger than her, Estrella excitedly added, “Yes! I feel like I’m the big kid. I like helping them out.”
The partnership between schools has particularly provided fifth-graders in the STEM Robotics Club to be excited that their passion can continue in middle school. With all the choices out there for middle school, the emphasis on STEM at Fees College Prep can provide these fifth-graders and their parents with a great option.
“I like getting to work with Fees College Prep students,” said McGinley. “They are really nice and helpful with our projects!”
Above all, the STEM Robotics Club provides an outlet for all kids interested in math and science outside of the classroom environment, whether they excel in those subject areas or not.
“Math can be for you even if you are not getting the highest score in class,” said Barnes. “The kids are very welcoming and it’s a great way for boys and girls to come together. They are all working really hard and are excited about their projects.”
The club is currently working on a big project that combines strategy, teamwork, creativity, and collaboration. Stay tuned for more stories on this amazing Tempe Elementary club!