On average, teachers across the U.S. spend approximately $479 on classroom supplies each year, according to a 2018 study by the National Center of Education Statistics. The Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEMe) at Georgia Southern University is helping reduce this burden for teachers in southeast Georgia with the School Outreach Program, a lending membership program that provides STEM and social studies materials for K-12 classrooms.
i2STEMe, housed in the College of Education, serves as an outreach center for the university, regional educators and the broader community. The School Outreach Program provides STEM and social studies supplies, including consumable and non-consumable materials, equipment, and teaching aids to member teachers, schools and districts. Members can request items and materials that will be delivered to and picked up from their school location. Annual membership for the program can be purchased by entire school districts, schools or individual teachers.
“For many teachers, this is an opportunity to access equipment they do not traditionally have in elementary, middle, and high school science and social studies classrooms,” said i2STEMe coordinator Kania Greer, Ed.D. “We lend equipment such as lasers, microscopes, fossil sets, spectrometers, electrostatic generator, Native American artifacts, games and more. In addition, providing classroom consumables ensures that districts with fewer resources can provide hands-on, engaging activities for their students.”
With a simple request, teachers are able to focus on lesson plans and instruction delivery as well as test activities and materials before investing funds for school materials.
“Because we know teachers know how to best work with their population, we do not provide a set curriculum,” said Greer. “Instead, we have developed guides with suggested activities and ideas that teachers can build from. We work individually with teachers to determine their lesson or instructional goals and provide recommendations for material and activities that could assist them in best achieving their efforts.”
For current Georgia Southern teacher candidates working in classrooms during their field practice, the supplies and materials can be requested at no charge.
“We want to ensure that our students have the resources they need to be successful in their field experiences,” Greer said. “Providing these materials can help ease the fear student teachers may have of providing engaging activities for their students while also showing them innovative ways to teach the fundamental lessons.”
The Bryan County School System is a district member of the i2STEMe School Outreach Program and Vivian Huntoon, a fifth grade teacher at McAllister Elementary School, explained that the program materials aligned with state standards and have enhanced classroom instruction.
“The i2STEMe School Outreach Program offered through Georgia Southern has been the best resource that I have access to,” Huntoon said. “Being able to access materials for an entire class that are otherwise too pricey or too difficult to procure is extremely beneficial. In particular, students really enjoyed the sound kits, fossils and rocks, and microslide scopes. It is the ability for students to explore using these materials either individually or in groups that make instruction so valuable and engaging.”
“Another benefit of the program is having the students become aware of and respectful of others’ property,” she added. “When materials come in, students are taught how to care for and handle things that don’t belong to them. I look forward to continuing this partnership with Georgia Southern University.”
To inquire about membership information, please contact the i2STEMe administration at email@example.com or call 912-478-8650. A full list of lending inventory for the program members can be found by visiting https://coe.georgiasouthern.edu/stem/institute-outreach/stem-school-outreach/.