Abbott enables distribution of twice the number of STEM kits to support STEM learning for all fifth grade students in Des Plaines Community Consolidated School District 62

CHICAGOJan. 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO), dedicated to inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping restore America’s leadership in technology education, today announced they will double the number of STEM kits provided to foster interest in STEM education and careers. Beginning this month and continuing through December 2022, iBIO will give every fifth-grade student at Des Plaines Community Consolidated School District 62’s nine elementary schools activity kits to encourage at-home learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The iBIO STEM Kit program, which launched last January for students in various grades in District 62, filled an important educational gap created by distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this first phase of the program, with support from the global healthcare company Abbott, iBIO distributed approximately 2,000 STEM kits.

iBIO had committed to iterating the STEM Kit program with an eye toward continuous improvement on behalf of the state’s students, their families, future employers, and society at large. This new focus on a single grade level is the result of a strong partnership with the school district’s teachers and administration.

“We learned that this model fits into the district’s strategic plan for teaching STEM material to their students,” said Ann Vogel, SVP, Charitable Programs, iBIO. “Fifth grade is a critical time for intervention, so we want to make sure that we nurture an interest in STEM. Each kit also includes a STEM Hero card which provides a detailed profile of an expert working in the field at Abbott. These Heroes help students connect their hands-on fun with future career opportunities.”

The district’s teachers will be “cheerleaders” for the program, providing support and encouragement to their students, discussing career paths that are open to young adults with STEM education, and administering surveys to capture feedback about the STEM kits.

Jennifer Meister, a 5th grade teacher at South Elementary School, said, “I am excited to give my students the opportunity to extend their learning in science and math with these kits. I look forward to hearing about all of the exciting activities my students will engage in at home.”

Different activities appeal to different interests

Recognizing that it is hard to predict what will create a spark of passion in a young student, the STEM kits cover a broad range of STEM areas. Kits with different hands-on activities will be distributed to all 5th grade students through the schools each month of the school year. Examples of activities include:

  • Separating mixtures with the tools of chemistry
  • Exploring solubility to design, build and test a time-released pretend “medication tablet”
  • Discovering how to use the patterns and measurements of their bodies to create their own biometric database
  • Creating a variety of force generators to explore how centripetal and centrifugal forces act upon different objects

Abbott provides necessary funding to sustain the iBIO STEM KIT Program

Abbott provided funding to develop and deliver the first phase of STEM kits for the Des Plaines school district students. For this second phase, Abbott is the sole funder for all 4,500 STEM kits intended for the 5th graders.

Reflecting the appreciation of her colleagues throughout the school district, Dr. Lisa Bucciarelli-Carlos, principal at Plainfield Elementary School, said, “We are incredibly grateful to Abbott and iBIO for their generous donation of STEM kits for all Community Consolidated School District 62 fifth grade families. Our students and families are thrilled to engage in such robust and dynamic science, technology, engineering, and math activities at home.”

Corporations, foundations, and other sources of philanthropic funding that would like to support the expansion of the iBIO STEM Kit program to students throughout the state should contact iBIO’s Ann Vogel at avogel@ibio.org.

About iBIO

The Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO) is a life sciences industry association that represents the nearly 88,000 life sciences employees at member companies, universities, service providers and venture firms. iBIO promotes the industry’s value to the public and policymakers; connects innovators to investment and talent; stimulates collaboration and fosters the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to transform patient lives through groundbreaking research and works to grow the Illinois economy.

iBIO delivers industry-led STEM programs for teachers and students, thereby inspiring the next generation of innovators and helping restore America’s leadership in technology education. To learn more about iBIO and its programs, visit www.ibio.org.

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