STEM – Explore and Innovate
So why do we include STEM at PCS?
Our current curriculum (grades 3-5) includes STEM learning in classes and through extra-curricular activities. Our plans include growing this program and extending the STEM initiative through middle and upper school.
STEM is an instructional framework based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — through an interdisciplinary and applied approach.
Science incorporates real-world design challenges to be explored in each unit of study as students in grades 3 – 5 are immersed in this framework. As students explore grade-level science topics, they learn and apply relevant math concepts, use various technologies to extend and share their learning, and “think like engineers” to design solutions for real world challenges.
Technology becomes a tool for exploration and research, documenting and presenting results, and demonstrating an understanding of key concepts.
Engineering skills of defining a problem, generating ideas, selecting and testing a possible solution, creating, evaluating, and modifying the item and finally communicating the solution and results with others are implemented as students address a challenge problem related to the content. Examples include creating a model of an articulated hand as part of a unit on the human body, creating a water filtration system as part of a water cycle unit, and designing a “new” flower prototype that meets specific criteria as part of a plant life cycles unit.
Math skills are used to gather and record data, perform calculations, and analyze results.
Students are supported by teachers, but not given the answers, as they research, design, build, test and improve possible solutions creatively and collaboratively.
Good STEM lessons answer all of the following questions with a resounding yes:
– Does it engage students in the engineering design process?
– Do students address a real-world problem?
– Do they work in teams to solve this problem?
– Are there multiple possible solutions?
– Do students get to explore and come up with ideas on their own, without being spoon-fed?
We want our students to be able to inquire, think, investigate, and innovate.