SWFL Children Learn About STEM Fields in New Program


This story was originally published (without transcript) on ABC-7.com on July 27, 2017 at 2:31pm.


Southwest Florida children are getting the chance to learn about mechanical, electrical and plumbing concepts and careers. United Medical is teaming up with Child Care of Southwest Florida to launch "Helping Our Mini Engineers," or "HOME," to teach pre-schoolers about STEM fields. The program has purchased a trailer to fill with exhibits and take to schools to offer students hands-on learning experiences. Covered topics included will be engineering, weather, electricity and weather.

Official Transcript

Christina: And this morning we are talking science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM fields. Kids in southwest Florida are getting a brand new hands on experience in preschool.


Greg: It's pretty nifty. Thanks to United Mechanical and Childcare of Southwest Florida, kids at the Joseph H. Messina Children's Center are becoming mini-engineers with a new kind of way of learning.


Christina: Yeah. This is so neat. So this morning we're getting you more on how it works and why it's so important. Joining us now in the studio we have Jill Moreland, with United Mechanical. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. And Carol Conway as well with United, I'm sorry. Childcare of Southwest Florida.


Carol Conway: Very good.


Christina: I wanted to get it right. Okay. So you guys are collaborating on this effort here to kind of introduce STEM fields to kids from a really young age, preschool we're talking. Super young. So kind of tell us where this idea come from.

Jill Moreland: We had partnered up on a United Way project where we got to meet working on a garden project for the school that they needed and that went so well that we wanted to do something else together. United Mechanical ... There's a huge void in southwest Florida in general in just the trades, plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, so we wanted to find something that we can expose the kids to at an early age about these trades and kind of get them interested. And so we kind of came up with the idea of building this little home that we could ... Originally we were gonna make it a solid feature, but then we thought you know let's make it a trailer and this way we can bring it around and just kind of expose them to it. 

Christina: Yeah. That's so neat and you guys actually included them on the plans as well. They got to draw- 


Greg: These little blue prints. 


Jill Moreland: Mm-hmm (affirmative). 


Greg: It's really awesome. 


Christina: -and be part of it, which is awesome. 


Greg: Yeah. Why is it so important to get kids involved in STEM at such an early age? 


Carol Conway: I believe that American adults grossly underestimate the capacity, the ability, and the resourcefulness of little kids. And so we are spoon feeding them education when really they're ready to gobble it up. So instead of introducing them to a round ball, we can introduce them to a wheel. Or instead of introducing them to a triangle, we can introduce them to a fulcrum. All these are engineering useful terms and it will help stimulate their interests in their creativity and possible careers in engineering. 


Greg: That's pretty cool. 


Christina: That's so cool. Kind of talk a little bit about what the insides of these trailers look like. 


Jill Moreland: Right now the trailer's actually lined with paper because we wanted to go and we actually took- 


Christina: What they will look like, I guess. 


Jill Moreland: Right. Well what's neat is we took the trailer and they're lined with paper and as the kids have been studying the lesson plans we let them go in and actually draw some of the things that they wanted to see in there. And then I kind of went in with Don Pine, who's our Vice President, we kind of drew on, you know, put some more things on there that we wanted to do. Then we got two more members of Childcare coming tomorrow, Tammy Aronson and Sabrina, those are the teachers that have been working with the children on the lessons plans. So we're just gonna kind of finalize the design and then we're gonna actually start putting it together. So, it's gonna have a plumbing section, everything is going to be done with plexiglass, so the kids can actually see how everything works. There's gonna be an electrical wall and there's gonna be a mechanical wall that has six simple machines and it's just gonna kind of gonna go from there. 


Greg: Do you see this program expanding as the months and perhaps years go by? 


Jill Moreland: Absolutely. 

Carol Conway: We have six early learning centers and 650 children in our care. And our goal is being able to take the trailer and move it about to a variety of centers, participate in STEM fairs, and once the home is completely built and we've had a chance to expose it, we have opportunities to change it, improve it, and fix things. So it'll be a live, ongoing project. 


Christina: That's awesome. 


Greg: Any openings for a 30 year old, morning anchor? 


Jill Moreland: Absolutely. 


Carol Conway: Greg, we'd be happy to take an application. 


Greg: It sounds really great. 


Christina: It does sound really fun. Wish I had that when I was in school, pre school. How cool. 


Greg: Ladies, thank you so much for being with us. 


Christina: Yes. 


Carol Conway: Thank you very much for having us. 


Jill Moreland: Thank you. 


Carol Conway: We appreciate it. 

Christina: We'll have to follow along with this program as well.


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