When the NPC STEM Experience Van rolls up to area schools, it’s met with great curiosity from students. That wonderment soon turns into excitement as the students experience new ways of learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM. Some schools have STEM clubs, but for many, their introduction to it comes through a visit from the special van.
A collaboration between NPC and the Navajo County School Superintendent’s Office, this mobile education lab was created in 2017 to increase student participation in the regional science fair by 30 percent over a three-year period.
But the project has become so much more than that! Schools are now requesting visits from the van because it is a FREE, fun educational tool. Every appearance by the STEM van crew is tailored to the school or the event, and activities are customized for students age 6 to 18.
The program is coordinated by Royce Kincanon, NPC Community and Corporate Learning Coordinator; Susan Rodriguez, Navajo County Education Specialist; and Katie Olson, Community and Corporate Learning Specialist at NPC.
Among the learning tools in the van are:
• The Polydron, an assortment of multiple shaped pieces of material that allow children to create objects, learning math, geometry, design and technology in the process.
• Botley, a small robot that children age 5 and up can code to navigate an obstacle course.
• The HUE animation system, a computer software program that helps students learn how to create a movie and tell a story.
One young student’s comment demonstrates just how enjoyable learning through the van can be. Lilyann Hunt told her mom, “That was science? I thought it was just fun stuff!”
Rodriguez, who often arrives at the schools dressed as a “mad scientist,” says, “We have had parents ask about the activities because they’re always looking for fun, educational events for their kids. We really tailor each appearance for the schools we visit. We have done everything from preschool (age 3) to adults. We do it all!”
Interested in bringing the NPC STEM van to your school? Send an email request to [email protected] or go to: