All were welcomed for the first meeting of April by David Kray.  After enjoying a delicious lunch, President Brad Kirscher called the meeting to order at 12:30, then David Kray led the flag pledge and four way test.  Dick Einan delivered the invocation about how small groups of citizens change the world.  Jan Vanderwall made the long walk up to the podium to introduce the lone visitor, Ron Hughes from the Excelsior Rotary Club.
Following introductions there were several announcements:
  • Ted Johnson informed the club that he recently received an email from one of the REEP educators that visited us from Sri Lanka.  The email thanked us for the opportunity and explained how the exchange really helped improve the teacher’s English and he has learned a lot after the trip.  The teacher has now changed schools and received a promotion.
  • Deb Nygaard had the weekly “membership moment” and asked club members to invite friends and acquaintances to the meeting next week where Rotarian Noel Lutsey will be discussing the Guatemala Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Center.
  • Brad Kirscher reminded the club that there is a special meeting on May 1 with guest Neema Namadamu, who is one of the presenters at the District Conference.  Crippled by polio, Neema is the first woman with a disability from her ethnic group to earn a university degree.  She served in Parliament for South Kivu province and then Chief Advisor to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Gender and Family.  The meeting will be open to Rotarians and guests in our District and registration is required for guests at this meeting.  Contact Kathy or visit our website for more information.
  • Brad Kirscher also announced that Bill Gates will be speaking at the International Conference this June in Atlanta.
  • Melanie Mogg recently returned from Arizona with a plethora of lemons from her tree.  Meeting attendees had an opportunity to take lemons home with a free will donation benefiting REEP.        
  • Next, several club members participated in Happy Dollars to raise money for Polio Plus.
Carolyn India-Black, Alicia Sandy, Brad Kirscher
The presenters for the meeting were Alicia Sandy and Carolyn India-Black who both have three children attending the Falcon Heights Elementary School (FHES).  Alicia is also a kindergarten teacher at the school.  FHES currently serves 520 students in grades K-6 of which 69% are white and 30% receive free or reduced lunches.  Carolyn and Alicia came to discuss the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Adventures program that they just started to implement in the second half of the 2016-2017 school year.  Many schools are lacking STEM curriculum because the curriculum is generally geared towards having the students reach certain reading achievement levels and we are starting to see a shortage of qualified individuals to fill STEM related jobs.  The presenters indicated that STEM related occupations are growing at 17% while all others are growing at 9.8%.  Additionally, individuals with a STEM education have higher income potential and play a key role in the growth and sustainability of the U.S. economy   
The program, which helps kids see and think like designers and prepares them for future STEM curriculum, was initially funded by a grant from the PTA to have a STEM teacher come to each K-5 classroom two days per week (6th grade already has an engineering class).  The grant also funded materials including Rokenbok RokBlocks and Mobile STEM Labs.  Alisha explained that she discovered the Rokenbok curriculum at her prior teaching gig in California and FHES is the first school in Minnesota to use the curriculum.  She demonstrated how the RokBlocks work and they are really cool.  They are building materials like big Legos with different shaped blocks, pieces and movable parts like hinges.  The children can start with build plans or do their own creative builds.  Alisha indicated that the students really enjoy the RokBlocks and have fun while learning the design process.  For example, she demonstrated how children are asked to build a hammer and then improve the design to make it stronger, more cost effective and user friendly. 
Alisha explained that the STEM program has been a great success in its early stages and is helping students develop in science, physics, math, creativity and the ability to successfully work as a team.  To continue and expand the STEM program, additional funding will be required and FHES is seeking to partner with the Roseville Rotary Club to continue the program next school year, purchase Snap Stack Mobile Stem Labs and purchase Basic Robotics Mobile STEM Labs.  They made a financial request of $13,000 of which $10,000 would fund a part time teacher to visit each K-5 class 20 times, $1,200 would fund the Snap Stack labs and $1,800 would fund the Robotics labs.  If the Club were to partner with FHES, the school would show appreciation by hanging a Roseville Rotary banner by the school’s front entrance, give acknowledgement on the school website and newsletter, attend future meetings to provide updates and invite Rotary members to attend events and STEM classes.