Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley (BBBSLV), an area nonprofit dedicated to igniting the power and promise of youth through one-to-one mentoring, is expanding their programming through the establishment of a new on-site STEAM Lab. With the goal of improving math skills and PSSA scores of children enrolled in their mentoring programs, BBBSLV is enhancing exposure to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) activities at the Lab located in their Youth Mentoring Center on the Eastside of Allentown.
The BBBSLV STEAM Lab was made possible through funding from local companies and foundations including, Trexler Trust, Fox & Roach/Trident Charities, Computer Aid, and Phantoms Charities. Contributions were used to reimagine the space and purchase needed technology and tools for STEAM integration into program curriculums, including iPads, a mobile charging station, a smartboard, robotics kits, Lego walls, and more.
“STEAM integration will prepare children for future academic pursuits and careers by introducing them to activities they might not otherwise have access to. Further supporting children through mentorship will give them the confidence they need to navigate novel activities and increase the fun,” said Susan Bartels, CEO of BBBSLV.
STEAM activities will be utilized within four different BBBSLV programs: the Site-Based mentoring program (local high school students mentor students from Mosser and other local elementary schools once-per-week); the weekly After-School Enrichment Program (elementary students utilize online math program Dreambox to improve math skills and receive homework assistance from mentors); Littles2B (a once monthly program offering enrichment activities for adult volunteers and children waiting to be paired with a mentor); and the Community-Based program (mentors and mentees have access to the Mentoring Center during “Match Drop-in Hours” available three evenings a month).
In accordance with new PA state and CDC guidelines released last week, BBBSLV is hosting its on-site programs virtually utilizing Zoom breakout rooms to incorporate STEAM activities, with the intent to resume meeting in person as soon as it is safe to do so.
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Children enrolled in their programs experience improvements in academics, sociability and self-confidence. In 2021, BBBSLV will celebrate its 50th anniversary. www.BBBSLV.org