SRT Brings STEAM Program to North Dakota State Fair
By Cassidy Hjelmstad And Teal Myre
SRT Communications, Inc., Minot, N.D.
SRT Communications, Inc. (Minot, N.D.) was invited by the North Dakota State Fair (NDSF) to host an hour-long activity for children ages 8–14. The activity would be a part of the fair’s first STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Art [changed to Agriculture for the fair audience] & Math) Experience. The fair was held in Minot, N.D., in July.
After reaching out to our most tech-savvy employees, we chose a computer programming activity, "Hour of Code," from Code.org. The lesson plans it offered fit our needs for providing an activity structure that appealed to kids of a variety of ages. It also enabled us to focus on the technology part of the fair’s STEAM Experience. SRT wanted to help area children develop an interest in technology, learn how technology is used in their daily lives and discover more about working in technology-related fields. We were able to add our own introduction to the session and provide some of our SRT staff to help with one-on-one instruction.
The “Hour of Code” programming lesson we used was the popular Minecraft game. The children worked their way through 10 lessons. It started with simple coding lessons and worked its way up to coding that would allow the kids to direct their Minecraft game characters.
We marketed our event at the fair ahead of time through a press release and social media. Code.org helped us provide lesson-plan materials to help train our staff. SRT also provided laptops to use in the activity area, and each child who participated left with a certificate, a list of online resources to help further their technology learning, a Minecraft keychain and an SRT backpack.
SRT’s "Hour of Code" activity was the first event of its kind in the area. We attracted 21 children and their parents.
As a technology company, we see the importance of STEAM education among children. We understand that this type of education is not always as accessible to rural schools, communities and children. SRT is thrilled to bring technology and learning activities to the fair, where so many kids from rural homes and towns come to visit. We were especially happy to see so many girls participate and to see their enthusiasm for computer technology.
The overall result of the event was positive. We received feedback from parents, one of whom was a teacher. She had commented on how grateful she was that we provided an opportunity for kids to participate in a technologyrelated activity. We have also seen an interest from local schools who would like SRT to hold the activity for area students.
North Dakota State Fair General Manager Renae Korslein said, "A huge part of the North Dakota State Fair is continuing education in agriculture and related fields and bringing that education to kids who attend the fair. The opportunity to work with SRT and other organizations in the community to create the NDSF STEAM Experience has been incredible, and we only hope to see this program grow and evolve."
The STEAM activity we held sparked an interest and curiosity in technology that we hope these children will carry into the future.
Cassidy Hjelmstad is director of corporate communications and Teal Myre is public relations manager at SRT Communications, Inc.