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STEM Education

Exploration, Play, Invention, and Creativity Studio

St. Francis Xavier SchoolSaint Francis Xavier School (Wilmette, IL). In 2013, Saint Frances Xavier developed its EPIC framework to promote students and teachers’ Exploration, Play, Invention, and Creativity. The EPIC themes provide scope and purpose so that faculty make connections between the school’s mission, curriculum, and the engagement of all students. The EPIC Studio, home to technologies and out-of-the-box thinking tools, is adjacent to the library to promote project-centered activities and dialogue. During classroom EPIC hours and project-based activities, students engage in creative problem-solving, maker-skills, digital citizenship, and emerging technologies. A preschooler may access EPIC through the school’s Imagination Playground while an 8th grader may access EPIC through the school’s Biomechanics and Prosthetics Club. The EPIC framework fosters students’ curiosity, builds critical thinking skills, emphasizes fundamental STEM principles, and unlocks students’ abilities to make a difference by developing a rich tool box of skills and talents.

EAST Lab Produces 3D Yearbook

Photo of Don Roberts Elementary School

Don Roberts Elementary School (Little Rock, AR). The Don Roberts Elementary School is home to an award winning Environmental and Spatial Technology (E.A.S.T.) Lab. The EAST Lab provides professional-grade technology for students to learn to solve problems creatively in their communities. Students have access to state-of-the-art software and equipment: drones, geospatial technology, 3D printers, graphics programs, small computers for programming, and video editing software. The Roberts EAST lab serves over 100 students in grades 3-5. Students master the software and tools in project-based activities and projects. One of the most dynamic student project is the development of a 3D yearbook for the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Through the magic of “Sense Scanning,” Roberts’ students scan the faces of each graduating senior of the Arkansas School for the Blind to create a 3D yearbook. The 3D yearbook provides students with visual impairments the opportunity to feel the facial features of their classmates.

The Value of STEM

Photo of Leon Sheffield Magnet Elementary School

Leon Sheffield Magnet Elementary School (Decatur, AL). At Leon Sheffield Magnet Elementary School, students not only have access to STEM in their classes, but each class visits the STEM lab weekly for forty-five minutes. In the STEM lab, students commonly work in teams to apply their knowledge by solving problems or conducting experiments. For example, third graders learned about chemical reactions and designed their own experiments. Fourth graders built a flood barrier to keep a tiny doghouse from flooding when it rains. The students also research, organize, and present group and individual science experiments. The technology class extends the students’ ability to use data and research to present information. Students learn work-place skills in how they present ideas, research, and information in word processing documents or visual organizers.

Prioritizing Time for STEM

Photo of AcadeMir Charter School West

AcadeMir Charter School West (Miami, FL). The mission of AcadeMir Charter School is to provide a challenging academic curriculum that includes an enriched STEM project-based learning program for students in grades K-5. AcadeMir extended the school day by 30 minutes so that students receive 60 minutes daily of mathematics instruction, 30 minutes daily of STEM enrichment instruction, and 150 minutes a week of science instruction. During the STEM Enrichment Block, all students practice applying knowledge and skills in inquiry-based learning activities using real-life scenarios. All K-5th grade students have an additional Science Lab elective class for 1 hour a week using a science engineering program. During the school year, the students in K-5th apply their knowledge in the scientific method by developing two science projects. The science projects gives students the opportunities to develop, plan, and explore science as they learn through inquiry-based instruction.

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