UD Brings STEM to Dubuque Dream Center

Jul 21, 2017 | Stacey Ortman, director of public information

Dream Center visits UD (700x400 px)

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Tyler Stapleton, a sophomore pre-education and English secondary education double major, protectively watched over Dubuque Dream Center youth Wednesday, July 19, as they launched stomp rockets on the University of Dubuque campus. With each launch of a 2-liter bottle rocket on the Quad, dreams of a future in science were ignited for the children.

“What I’ve been surprised about is just how active the children are and how much they want to be in the new program,” Stapleton said. “They’re excited to participate. It’s been exciting for me, too.”

This summer, the UD Teacher Education Department took its STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education on the road to serve children in need. The department partnered with the Dubuque Dream Center – a community outreach center that strives to inspire vision and purpose through impacting youth, strengthening families, and building community – to create the UD-Dream Center STEM Collaboration program. Every Wednesday, department staff and students visited the center to teach STEM activities to center youth for two hours.

“We’re hoping the Dream Center youth will have some STEM experiences that are not always afforded to them,” said Debra Stork, UD Teacher Education Department head and professor of education. She added that maybe the children will realize they can do science and get excited about STEM career fields.

The UD-Dream Center STEM Collaboration is led by Stork and Jeff Haverland, assistant professor of teacher education. Five UD students and recent graduates – Stapleton, Khalea Neal, Anna Stuart, Ty Luett, and Michaela Askew – volunteered their time to teach the STEM activities.

On July 19, Dubuque Dream Center youth visited UD. They spent time doing polymers in a chemistry lab, dance in Babka Theatre, baseball in McCormick Gymnasium, and stomp rockets on the Quad.

“It’s really good that the Dream Center children get role models from college and that they get to come to campus,” said Neal, who graduated in May 2017. She taught a step routine in Babka Theatre to show the young students the importance of perseverance. Neal said kids need to learn about perseverance because sometimes they give up when they don’t feel they can do something.

Neal volunteered for the program to meet future students. In the fall, Neal will start her career as a fourth grade teacher at Prescott Elementary School in Dubuque.

The UD Teacher Education Department staff and students will continue to visit the Dubuque Dream Center through the middle of August. Stork said she hopes to build on the summer program and continue the connection with STEM at the center throughout the academic year.