Science Center of Iowa Develops Senior STEM Learning Program

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Science Center of Iowa has received a grant to develop a senior STEM learning program.

The $15,000 grant is from Facebook’s Altoona Data Center.  The money will go to research and materials when educating the aging population of Iowa on how to use technology.

“STEM” stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Jolie Pelds, the Science Center of Iowa's Director of Innovated STEM Teaching, said it is important for the aging population of Iowa to understand just how easy technology can be integrated into daily routines.

“I think that is the biggest challenge. Is how to break down that uneasiness that is just very natural for people of a different generation to understand that they too can participate in coding and programming,” Pelds said.

Pelds said using iPads is one way the program is looking to break down the stigma when it comes to using technology.

“It is our experience that as we talk to some seniors they are very interested in things that help to continue their mind being used and challenged and coding and programming really fits well into that,” Pelds said.

Pelds said they have begun teaching people how to use the app “scratch” that lets people make up the code to control what robots do.

So far the program has gone to an assisted living home in Mitchellville. Pelds said it is currently looking to expand to assisted living homes and retirement homes in Altoona.

Pelds said the program hopes to spread across the eastern part of Polk County.

The Science Center of Iowa plans to have classes in its Innovation Center starting later this fall.

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