WEST HARTFORD — The Children’s Museum will be able to bring its services to even more children with the help of a recent grant.
The museum, which is located at 950 Trout Brook Drive. in West Hartford, received a $10,000 Eversource grant. This money will be used to bring more interactive STEM and STEAM activities to families in Hartford.
The museum has offered this program — which focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math — for four years, but this will be the first time it expands beyond the summer into the school year, said Joe DeFeo, of The Children’s Museum.
“It’s our bringing STEAM and the museum to the neighborhoods program,” he said.“We do multiple full day STEAM programs that children and their caregivers can come to and learn together.”
Museum staff mainly work with the Hartford Public Library, along with the Institute for the Hispanic Family and their family and community centers. They continued it virtually this past year during the pandemic.
“These types of programs are important because they establish a base and stepping stones for out-of-school or informal learning,” DeFeo said. “There have been quite a few reports done regarding the importance of informal learning, and more so when caregivers are involved.”
The program focuses on children between the ages of 3 and 13, along with their caregivers.
He said it also brings resources into communities that might not otherwise have access to them.
“There may be a young person who thinks that an engineering career isn’t something they can aspire to,” DeFeo said. “Hopefully our outreach will help change that. By meeting people where they are comfortable, you can open up whole new realms of dialogue, understanding and learning.”
He said this STEAM outreach came about as a way to make the Families Learn Together program more accessible.
DeFeo estimates 700 to 1,000 people take advantage of the program each year.
“We are expanding it because it is a successful program and because there is a demand for it, plain and simple,” DeFeo said. “It’s part of the strategy to maintain a consistent outreach to the community, so the programs just don’t feel like a ‘one and done.’”
He said grants like those from Eversource and Pratt and Whitney allow the museum to offer the programs for free.
“It’s been great to see so many community members coming out for the events,” he said. “Extending this into the academic year will help to reach more folks because it may be during time they have set aside already, or because it’s during time that kids are usually learning, so it makes sense to continue on.”