KBTC Uses Marbles, Paint, and Dr. Seuss to Make After-school Science Fun

Filed Under: Expanded Learning - Posted @ 10:42am

  • KBTC STEM at Jennie Reed Elementary School in Tacoma

On a recent afternoon at Jennie Reed Elementary School,  first-grader Sadie’Sade was one of about a dozen students using a tray filled with paint and marbles to try to create a picture.  As she rocked the tray back and forth she said,  “I like it because it’s fun!”  But the activity was more than just fun, it was designed to teach kids about inquiry and problem solving.

Sadie’Sade is a part of KBTC Kids STEM. It’s an after-school science program offered by the local PBS affiliate at four Tacoma elementary schools and two Tacoma Housing Authority sites.  KBTC Kids STEM utilizes PBS Kids curriculum and video resources to teach students about approaching problems like a scientist.

“It’s a different way of doing it”, says Alyssa Torrez, KBTC Community Engagement Manager, “because we’re not writing terms on the board or explicitly saying ‘now you’re in this step’. The learning is happening organically through play and experimentation. The kids get really excited because they know the characters from TV too, so that makes the bridge to learning a little easier as well.”

Before Sadie’Sade and her fellow students got the paint and marbles, they watched a video that featured Dr. Seuss singing a song called “Accidents Happen, If You’re Lucky”.  As a group they discussed what they saw in the video and how accidents can help us learn new things.



Once Sadie’Sade and her classmates were given the chance to experiment painting with the marbles, they quickly recognized the marbles were hard to control.  As a result, they came up with new strategies to better manage the marbles and make the paintings look the way they wanted.

“This lesson about learning from our accidents and trying new approaches is important in science, but also in life and relationships” said Honey Batth, KBTC STEM Teacher.  While Sadie’Sade is having fun, she’s also getting that lesson.  At one point when the group circled up for a reflection, Sadie’Sade told Ms. Honey, “You inspire me… because you teach us about science.”

KBTC is one of 24 organizations currently offering Expanded Learning Opportunities through the Tacoma Whole Child partnership. Students at 12 Elementary Schools in Tacoma now have access to Expanded Learning Opportunities like KBTC Kids STEM through this community-wide effort to ensure every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools, and numerous community partners are working together to expand this partnership by providing aligned, equitable, high quality social, emotional, and academic development opportunities to students in and out of school.

To learn more about increasing Expanded Learning Opportunities for Tacoma youth, contact GTCF for ways to support programming.