Gardner EAST Program Partners with Community

Gardner EAST Program Partners with Community
Posted on 01/17/2019
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The EAST (Education Advanced by Service and Technology) at Gardner STEM Program is a unique group of young entrepreneurs working in the Gardner STEM Magnet School community and the Hot Springs area to complete technology-based service projects. EAST classrooms are different from others, especially at the elementary level, because EAST curriculum is based on developing skills that are directly applicable to the real world through self-directed projects. Few schools in Arkansas host EAST programs for elementary students. The HSSD is proud to have Gardner focusing on EAST for such a young age, and EAST Facilitator Paul Miller helps to ensure that these young minds remain challenged, and are not underestimated. The group is excited to be part of the 2nd Annual Early Childhood STEAM Conference on January 26th, where they hope to partner with local Pre-K programs to build educational resources and outreach tools, and serve as mentors to younger students with an interest in technology.


“Elementary EAST classrooms provide the beginning stages of valuable problem solving and collaboration skills. Students are exposed at a young age to advanced technology, equipment, and structured activities in computer coding, 3D printing, and online creativity,” says EAST Program Facilitator and Gardner Technology Teacher Paul Miller. “I also recommend EAST to parents because we combine technology-based activities and projects with verbal and writing skills. It isn’t easy for elementary students to pitch an idea to a client, or to learn how to explain a new idea. It’s never too early to start those kind of experiences, and EAST gives us an opportunity to do that.”


The EAST at Gardner Program projects are varied and far reaching. Last school year at Gardner, the group organized a “This Day in History” project where they identified an interesting fact about each day of the year. They created animated presentations to accompany each fact and broadcasted them during live news broadcasts and via social media. This group designed a Storm Water App to help keep the storm drainage system cleaner in the Hot Springs area. They chose a teacher to spotlight each month, and created a poster with unique facts about selected educators to be placed in a “Hall of Fame” display in the Gardner hallways. They also created an “Attitude of Gratitude” project, where they typed “thank you” notes to parents, and then used specific ways that each child is thankful to create movies for parents to honor their efforts. Earlier this year, they were highlighted for a video project that provides a “how-to” for composting. The composing video series is a partnership effort with the Garland County Master Gardeners Group. See more details on that project, here.


One of their efforts  has been the creation of an educational resource to help kindergarten students with reading. They identified sight words for each nine weeks and created a full book with photos that can be printed, as well as a video to accompany that students can watch. The video has animation and students reading the pages for young readers to reference as they tackle new sight words. This is the type of project that they will showcase during the upcoming Early Childhood STEAM Conference, which brings together Pre-K programs across Garland County. EAST at Gardner will host a photobooth at the event, and collect contact information of professionals from early childhood centers that they might partner with to create educational resources, and possible outreach materials including public service announcements, mini-videos, brochures, and social media and website pages.


All projects and work provided by EAST programs are free of charge to the community. HSSD staff members and community partners and groups may contact Paul Miller at millerp@hssd.net with project requests or questions. Learn more about #HSSD Gardner STEM Magnet School, here.