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Special programming will benefit Boys & Girls Club middle school students

University collaboration is part of club’s grant to engage children through hands-on learning

​By Jerry Poling, UW Stout

Menomonie, Wis. — Middle school students from the Menomonie’s Boys & Girls Club will learn about cool technology and eating healthy thanks to a new collaborative grant with University of Wisconsin-Stout.

To help engage children in Menomonie, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley recently received a 21st Century Community Learning Centers award of nearly $57,000, part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act through the state Department of Public Instruction.

“This funding truly gives Menomonie Middle School students exciting opportunities,” said CEO Ann Kaiser. “We will be able to provide unique experiences only available to club kids, thanks in large part to the partnership and generous outreach of UW-Stout. This grant is a testimony to the power of collaboration.”

Students in a summer camp look over a project in UW-Stout’s Fab Lab. Middle school students from the Boys & Girls Club in Menomonie will take part in Tech Tuesdays this spring. / UW-Stout

The Boys & Girls Club programming with UW-Stout will include two initiatives.

Tech Tuesdays will provide opportunities for up to 50 students a week to attend 12 Discovery Center Fab Lab sessions this spring. Students will work with 3D printers, laser cutters and other equipment not commonly accessible to that age group. Plus, students can take home STEM-related activities on engineering, design, aviation, physics and robotics.

One of the activities will be building a rocket.

“These events are valuable because they will engage the students through hands-on activities and encourage them to explore science, technology, engineering and math,” said Joel Helms, associate director of Educational Pathways.

UW-Stout student Jazmine Williams helps a student in fall 2022 at the new Boys & Girls Clubs middle school program in Menomonie. / UW-Stout

The Just Eat It! nutrition education program presented by UW-Stout’s dietetics students will be held at the club after school in eight-week sessions. It will cover healthy eating habits, attitudes, knowledge and perceptions and include hands-on activities like cooking, food tasting, canning, pickling and diet analysis.

Along with the Fab Lab and Just Eat It! club members can attend field trips to campus for career, education and special interests as part of a larger grant initiative in the region.

“The partnership will continue to serve the community's young people by providing fun and robust learning experiences. The opportunity also provides UW-Stout students with hands-on experiences in their area of study,” said Tamara Brantmeier, UW-Stout associate vice chancellor of Partner and Student Engagement.

The Menomonie club is part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley, which includes clubs in Eau Claire, Altoona, Chippewa Falls and Black River Falls. Menomonie is the fastest growing of the five locations.

The club recently received an $80,000 grant, renewable for up to five years, from the state Department of Public Instruction to help expand services in Menomonie to include a middle school program.

UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes. Learn more via the FOCUS2030 strategic plan.


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