By Sally Miskavige, Grand Forks Children’s Museum Board Member
What was most impressive at Full STEAM Ahead (FSA) is what I like to think of as the three C’s…Connections, Community and Commitment.
Connections: with the advent and the forced lock downs because of Covid, coupled with the harsh Grand Forks’ winters and the lack of indoor play-based resources, this area (and really the world) has seen social fracturing/social disruption in the form of isolation, lack of face-to-face conversations, neighbor not meeting neighbor, social distancing, fewer play dates with children’s classmates…simply stated, social contact regressed. In many ways, children bore the significant brunt of restrictive social measures. Socialization, collaboration, learning to take turns, the opportunity to make new friends, have all suffered in the last few years.
However, on a positive note, what was witnessed at FSA was real communications, parents and children interacting with each other, and the simple joy of face-to-face conversations. There were so many opportunities for parents to simply relax, talk, make new friends, and reconnect with old friends. And the children just needed that opportunity to play together! During the week and at times when there were no classroom visits, there were many who brought their home-schooled children to Full STEAM Ahead. It was heartwarming to see how the children played together, collaborated, and participated in hands-on fun. One of the underlying principles of museums is to bring people together. The Grand Forks Children’s Museum will bring our area the opportunity to reconnect with friends, neighbors and make new friends.
Community: Grand Forks is a wonderful community. I know because I have lived here all my life. It was wonderful to see the Grand Forks community attend Full STEAM Ahead in such vast numbers. However, one of the greatest joys of Full STEAM Ahead was to see how many came from outside our Grand Forks town –attendees traveled from Cavalier, Grafton, Lakota, WAO (Warren, Alvarado, Oslo), Valley Edinburg, Crookston, Grand Forks Air Force Base (Twining). A school in Cavalier bussed the entire kindergarten class – over an hour in transit - to attend. Guessing those kids will remember this adventure for the rest of their lives… a fun bus trip to Grand Forks to have a great time at Full STEAM Ahead! It is our goal to make the Grand Forks Children’s Museum a museum for our entire community, welcoming Grand Forks residents as well as those in the surrounding communities and tourists who visit our area.
Commitment: There was so much positive feedback from participants at Full STEAM Ahead. Clearly, the Grand Forks Children’s Museum will bring joy, hands-on learning opportunities and STEAM-based activities. After seeing the positive reception at Full STEAM Ahead, the Board of Directors and I continue to be fully committed to completing this project and building the Grand Forks Children’s Museum for our entire community. The work continues…