S.T.E.M. Was So Good It Got An “A+”!

S.T.E.M. — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — is an acronym that was introduced in the early 21st Century to define education and careers in the most rapidly growing industries in the U.S. By finding new and exciting ways to get students engaged with the subjects of S.T.E.M., they gain skills needed to compete in the future.

Adding the “A” to S.T.E.M. to form S.T.E.A.M. has been a more recent nationwide evolution of the original S.T.E.M acronym, adding one other element: Art to help students develop a creative, problem-solving mindset even better.

Adopting a S.T.E.A.M. educational mindset made sense as the TrainTastic team planned an overall fun and educational framework for developing creative and organic ways for kids to have fun at TrainTastic. Children and youth could learn important concepts along the way while accelerating their creative and problem-solving skills by going above and beyond.

“There's a theory suggesting that individuals lean toward being either right-brained or left-brained based on their interests, learning styles and thinking patterns. For instance, left-brained individuals are often more analytical, logical and inclined towards scientific pursuits, aligning with S.T.E.M. education. But what if that's not your cup of tea? What if your child’s strengths lie in creativity, the arts and using their imagination? This is where right-brained thinking comes into play."

Enter TrainTastic's S.T.E.A.M. Shop!

Enter TrainTastic’s S.T.E.A.M. Shop – where Science, Technology, Engineering and Math collide with the Arts!

“Our aim has been to merge the ideas of right-brained thinkers with artistic expression, and I believe that's the true beauty of our S.T.E.A.M. Shop and educational programming,” said Caldwell. “And what better way to engage the entire brain than through activities like constructing a train layout?”

TrainTastic’s “Build Your Own Layout” exhibit where guests can learn the craft of model railroading.

S.T.E.A.M., of course, isn’t just a perfect program for a model railroad museum. It also serves as a more accurate representation of TrainTastic’s desire to incorporate the arts alongside the more technical aspects of S.T.E.M. Including arts provides guests of all ages (1-100) with opportunities to explore their creativity, think critically, communicate ideas effectively and approach problem-solving from different perspectives.

The arts serve as a catalyst for imagination, enabling students and guests to develop innovative solutions for complex challenges. S.T.E.A.M. is also more inclusive, where children can naturally gravitate toward areas they find interesting while encouraging them to use both logical and creative thinking. Since the museum’s inception, it has been TrainTastic’s mission to make this idea of educational entertainment a key focus of the museum.

“It was the vision from the beginning that TrainTastic would be more than just a railroad amusement park,” said Caldwell. “In my experience as an educator, I’ve found that you can weave education into playtime without kids even knowing it. Model railroads naturally incorporate many educational aspects, all while providing hands-on fun.”

Learning Powered by S.T.E.AM.

In the TrainTastic S.T.E.A.M. Shop and throughout the museum, seemingly simple activities like building a train layout from the ground up push kids as well as adults to flex their intellectual and creative muscles – incorporating skills such as logic, analytics, geometry, geography and engineering, while also expressing their artistic side through set design, placement, color and decoration. The TrainTastic team strives to provide a variety of activities that allow guests to engage their full minds and imaginations!

Speaking of imagination, imagine a hypothetical day at the S.T.E.A.M. Shop. Your child will walk in and immediately see a whiteboard that is filled with different activities that are both artistic and functional, such as building a model truss bridge out of marshmallows and toothpicks to learn the power of a triangle or crafting a water tower out of spaghetti noodles and a cup to hold water through balanced construction.

Not to mention, anything you or your child can make in the S.T.E.A.M. Shop they can take home! Parents can rest assured that all activities will be created in accordance with The Mississippi Department of Education’s standards, with each activity being designated and relevant to what your child is actually studying in their specific grade.

Of course, like everything else at TrainTastic, the S.T.E.A.M. Shop has big plans moving forward! In collaboration with the Gulfport, Mississippi school district, middle schoolers from every school in the city will take a field trip to TrainTastic throughout the year!

“Every Monday, we’ll see a different group, and by next year, every middle schooler in Gulfport will have been to TrainTastic for a museum tour and a S.T.E.A.M. lesson,” said Caldwell. “Many of these kids have never even been to a museum before, so we’re honored to provide them with that opportunity. We’re also planning to open the program to any other school on the Coast that wants to do field trips with us.”

This initiative comes alongside a new internship program where TrainTastic plans to employ two students from Gulfport High School who are in the school’s teaching and hospitality programs, allowing them to foster their passions in the real world. September, in particular, will be an incredibly important month for TrainTastic and the S.T.E.A.M. Shop, as they plan to introduce a promotion called “September is Special,” where the staff will be reaching out to special needs communities across the Coast for free or discounted opportunities to visit the museum during quieter hours. Plus, the S.T.E.A.M. Shop will consistently and continuously add new activities throughout the year, giving kids more of a reason to return again and again! If you’d like to inquire about field trips or help foster the continued growth of TrainTastic’s S.T.E.A.M. Shop and the educational opportunities at TrainTastic, visit the Donate page, call 228-284-5731 or email Bryan Caldwell directly at bcaldwell@traintastic.com.
“If you find this to be a cause that’s close to your heart, reach out to our office and we’ll point you in the right direction. We just recently had an organization donate to send two kids to one of our summer camp programs who otherwise couldn’t afford it. A donation really can spark a light for a kid that otherwise wouldn’t have it, making a meaningful impact that could reverberate through their entire life.”
Bryan Caldwell
Director of Education & Guest Services
TrainTastic Model Railroad Museum

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