STEM, STEAM, or STEEM: SND schools are fully engaged!

Whether you include an “A” for arts or an extra “E” for entrepreneurship, it’s clear many of the SND schools within the National Partnership recognize the value of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in their curriculum.

Keeping at the forefront of innovation is a big must for the Unites States. Our global leadership position was built on the work of scientists, engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs. Research shows significant job growth will occur in occupations heavily dependent upon the mastery of math and science knowledge and skills. Inspiring students in the early grades will help fuel their thirst for more knowledge and help prepare them for the years ahead. Integrating STEM into the curriculum is one way to fuel that fire!

A 2014 study published by the America Society for Engineering Education identified several characteristics of quality STEM programs:

  • The context is motivating, engaging, and real-world
  • Students integrate and apply meaningful and important mathematics and science content
  • Teaching methods are inquiry-based and student-centered
  • Students engage in solving engineering challenges using an engineering design process
  • Teamwork and communications are a major focus. Throughout the program, students have the freedom to think critically, creatively, and innovatively, as well as opportunities to fail and try again in safe environments.

A quick perusal of SND National Partnership schools’ websites shows that many schools in the network have effectively embraced STEM programs in their course of studies. And the outcomes are amazing:

cropped-stem-pictures-for-home-pageCardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, NC is a recurring host for the “FIRST Tech Challenge” tournament. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an extraordinarily fun event in which students build and program robots to perform certain tasks against competitors. Gibbon’s science teacher Diane Ripollone, who also moderates the school’s robotics club, notes that the tournament’s college-ready, career-ready focus is a plus for students. “It’s a fun and challenging way to provide students with the opportunity to hone their teamwork, math, science, and engineering skills,” she said. “It also offers them a glimpse into the worlds of business and engineering and helps prepare them for the future.”   (Click HERE for more details)

At St. John School in Delphos, OH the first grade students are combining language arts skills with science and technology using iPads, sticks and hairdryers! After reading and discussing stories of THE Three Little Pigs the students study engineering principles that support effective building construction. The huffing and puffing power of the of the big bad wolf takes the form of a hair dryer – much to the dismay of pigs living in a home made from straw! (Click HERE for more details)

Students at Notre Dame Academy in Los Angeles, CA have the opportunity to participate in the STEM Pathways Program, which promotes and supports interest in the fields of engineering. At the core of SP2 is involvement in computer science, robotics, aerospace, advanced science and mathematics, and collaborative scientific research. Beyond the core, students may explore digital art, CAD, or higher level mathematics or science courses.

Members of the SP2 Rocketry Class experience a number of off-campus visits that are truly out of this world. During a recent visit to the US Navy’s Propulsion Test Site at China Lake, CA students spent the morning touring the static fire test bays where rockets are tested, and then met with a variety of female Civil/Mechanical/Aero/Electrical engineers and technicians who shared stories about their career paths. The afternoon included a trip to the airfield to meet test pilots and tour the hanger where tests are run on the F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet and Harrier Jets. (Click HERE for more details)

Fully immersed in STEM from grades K- 8, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception School in Avon, OH has dynamic “hands-on” labs that compliment core curriculum and are designed to pique student interest in STEM areas. The topics are downright wild! Here’s just a sample of recent lab activities:

Mummified Chickens — In this supplement to a unit on ancient Egypt, students mixed common elements to create the drying substance used to aid in the process of making mummies. They then went through the whole mummification process over the course of a few months and produced actual mummified chickens.

Makey Makey — While learning about circuits and electrical wiring, students had to engineer a project that turned everyday objects into computer touchpads. Imagine playing the computerized piano on Play-Doh or controlling your computer with fruit!  The possibilities are endless!

DESMOS Art— is a powerful graphing calculator that works in a web browser or on iOS devices. It can graph color coded functions, plot tables of data, transformations, and more. In the first lab with DESMOS, students recreated stain-glass window art using just mathematical equations.

(Click HERE for more details)

If your school is interested in exploring ways to integrate more STEM (or STEAM or STEEM!) programs into your course of studies consider contacting your state’s “Connectors” to STEM initiatives. Click HERE for STEM resources for states within the SND Education Partnership that are provided by STEMconnector® (http://stemconnector.org)