On a sunny day in June, the weather was perfect for 40 parents and family members and their 55 children to splash around in Frederick County, Maryland. However, this wasn’t any typical summertime cool-off session—it was the Frederick County Judy Center’s 8th Annual STEM Water Day.
Judy Center coordinators and 15 volunteers joined to help counteract the “summer slide” by engaging children in early learning activities at the event, which was a partnership between the United Way’s Summer Serve Program, PNC Bank, and Family Partnership. Experts recommend that summer programs combine learning with hands-on recreational activities as well as have professional summer school staff form partnerships with community organizations to help reduce the effects of the “summer slide.”
While many programs address literacy loss, the Frederick County Judy Center coordinators also focus on math loss by adding STEM to summer fun. Research suggests that this approach is an important step toward ensuring children retain what they learned during the school year. In fact, many students lose over two months of math instruction during the summer because “they have very few opportunities to engage in any type of mathematical thinking,” says the Harvard School of Education.
During the STEM day, important math and science skills such as counting, categorizing, and building were incorporated into splash and play stations such as water walls, water tables, ice painting, and experiments. The Frederick County Judy Center and its partners also provided the children with an opportunity to learn critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are important for success in school and in life.
Find out more about the state’s 54 Judith P. Hoyer Center Early Learning Hubs, also known as “Judy Centers.”