Roots & Shoots January Guest Blogger: Nate Ellis, NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in the Topp Laboratory, Co-Director of the Danforth Center Maker Group

Before the age we are able to utter coherent sounds, we are little artists, scientists, and explorers; stumbling our way around the house to discover an object’s purpose, and experimenting with how it may work. Humans are inherently curious and driven to solve problems, often to the point where we have to keep an eye on kiddos to prevent their experiments going awry. There are benefits to having these instincts. We learn how our bodies connect to the world through our senses, such as touch (“that coffee mug is hot”), or sight (“ouch, that table was way closer than I had anticipated"). More than just navigating the home, these instincts are for understanding the world. And when they are cultivated and expanded, they have and continue to contribute to the advancement of humans, to our modern technologies and expression of the human spirit.

Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) are also four inherent interests we have at a young age, even if we don’t realize that adults classify our little experiments into these categories. In reality, these are four naturally overlapping subjects, and we add in art and creativity because they are equally fundamental. STEM programs are diverse, spanning circuitry with Chibitronics (electronic stickers), hands-on coding, robotics, and computing with low-cost Raspberry Pi’s. STEM activities are a way to engage the already curious minds of kids with fun, collaborative and exciting experiments that feel more like playing a game, even though, at the same time, they are cultivating new knowledge and developing fundamental critical thinking skills.

St. Louis is filled with STEM-focused programs available for a variety of ages. The Danforth Center’s Maker Group hosts the St. Louis Raspberry Pi Jam annual celebration of STEM outreach in the region, an event to educate parents on the available local programs, and space for kids to venture out and continue their curiosity and experiments through eye-catching activities. The Danforth Center and partners always look forward to this event, as we enjoy the enlightened experience kids and adults share when exploring in addition to bringing our community together. We hope you join us for this experience as well!

About the St. Louis Raspberry Pi Jam

Saturday, January 27, 12-4 p.m.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center hosts its fourth FREE St. Louis Raspberry Pi Jam bringing together over 400 students, educators, makers, scientists and community members of all ages interested in the world of scientific innovation and robotics. This event is for both children and adults interested in computers and is free to the public. Ample parking is free at the Danforth Plant Science Center. We hope to see you and your family at the Jam!