Standard 1

STANDARD 1

INCLUSION/EQUITY: School/program provides equitable opportunities for students to engage in high-quality STEM learning.

INITIATIVES/ACTIONS: 
- STEM Leadership Team planning school-wide initiatives
- Planning for a more inclusive Master Schedule
- Schoolwide implementation of the Engineering Design Process



What Does It Look Like?

Beaufort Elementary provides multiple opportunities for all students in the school to engage in STEM learning.  Not only is STEM integrated into the classroom curriculum, but the school also provides structured STEM classes developed to hone skills used in the Engineering Design Process. These skills are an essential part of the related arts labs: Engineering, Computer Science/Coding, Lego Lab, and Makerspace. In addition, the school provides opportunities for the community to be involved with students by connecting them with real world problems facing our community.


Master  Engineering Lab

Click here for a larger view of the Master Schedule

Click here for a larger view of the Engineering Lab Schedule 

PreK to 5th grade students have the opportunity to participate in both Lego Lab and Computer Science /Coding Lab, which each last fifty-five minutes.  Additionally, students in grades three through five get an extra seventy-five minutes of STEM education weekly through Engineering Lab.  Throughout the school, teachers use the same Engineering Design Process template with the same language. This develops cohesion so students know the expectations as they work through a build. Rubrics emphasizing this process are utilized in grading projects. Students are aware that the EDP is an essential component of their learning goals.


EDP

Many additional opportunities are provided for students to participate in STEM learning through individual classroom projects, as well as schoolwide STEM activities.  Teachers conscientiously incorporate STEM learning into their specific content areas. Students regularly participate in schoolwide STEM challenges. Beaufort Elementary hosts STEM days where students engage in engineering builds based on classroom topics. These days are dedicated to using the engineering design process to teach various subject-specific grade level standards. Some projects have included making a clothesline code that the patriots may have used during the American Revolution, designing an assembly line to build a toy racer, or finding a way to help the Emperor Penguin keep his egg from breaking during a fall. During these days, the students participated in schoolwide challenges, such as, building a catapult to get Uncle S. Patch home for Thanksgiving or building the tallest snowman.

Other opportunities for STEM learning are provided through grade-level builds such as our “Holiday Gift” challenges. The STEM Leadership team dressed up as elves and delivered packages with STEM challenges to each grade level. PreK camouflaged the reindeer to be hidden from the abominable snowman, kindergarten built Christmas trees from paper cups to see which could hold the most ornaments, and first grade tried to make reindeer fly. The excitement on the students' faces when the packages were delivered was unbelievable.  The second-grade classes had a great time making catapults to shoot marshmallows into hot chocolate. The third graders' ideas were amazing as they designed another way to get Santa up to the chimney since the reindeer had gotten pedicures and their paws were too slippery to land on the roof. Fourth graders were extremely competitive as they designed peppermint race cars. The fragile package competition (an egg drop from the second floor) that the fifth graders participated in was exciting for everyone.

 



Our STEM learning was expanded through the implementation of a One School, One Book project based on the book Brambleheart by Henry Cole.  After everyone in the school finished reading the adventures of Twig, students completed STEM challenges based on events from the novel. Prekindergarten through third grade, along with special education students, had to design a boat that would float and hold the four main characters as they tried to get the dragon safely away. Depending on grade level, they were given different materials to work with to complete the challenge. When they came to test, students were excited to put their boats in the water, add the characters, and count as they added weights (food) to see which boat could hold the most. The older children celebrated by designing sailboats that would be raced in an inflatable water raceway as a fan simulated wind. The students were so enthusiastic about the whole process that per students’ requests we are planning challenges for the sequel Bayberry Island coming soon.


One Book

We have started to purposely include self-contained special education students in various STEM challenges, where we had not done so in previous years. The engineering teacher plans special challenges for them based on literature they read, such as Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete. Based on the story, each child had to make something scary. Materials, such as Keva® blocks, have also been purchased for them so they can create and design in their classrooms. We plan to continue to grow these opportunities and increase their involvement in STEM learning. 

Strengths

At BES, we have evolved into a learning environment where we provide STEM opportunities to all students across all grade levels. Our strength is creatively engaging all students through STEM.  We have conscientiously implemented STEM throughout the entire school community through inclusive strategies such as our related arts classes, monthly challenges, and our One School, One Book initiative. 

Sustainability

A substantial portion of our Title 1 budget is dedicated to buying supplies and providing resources to teachers for STEM.  Members of the STEM leadership team have provided support by teaching model lessons, offering to team teach, and team planning with classroom teachers. The STEM leadership team also works to plan staff development to help teachers feel more adept at implementing STEM and integrating additional content areas such as social studies, ELA, and special areas. During professional development, new strategies are shared to enrich the STEM practices such as adding budgets as a constraint. 

Challenges

One of our biggest challenges is that many of our students come from an impoverished background and lack personal experiences. STEM is a means in which we can attempt to even out the playing field.  Another challenge we face is our diverse population. We have a wide spectrum of abilities.  We have a magnet program for high ability, and we house severe and profound special education students for the district.  Meeting the needs of all is challenging but it is a worthwhile goal. 

Continuous Improvement

Though we have made great progress, an area for improvement is to find even more opportunities for special education and PreK students to be included in STEM learning. In our severe and profound classrooms, the opportunity to feel special and valued is provided through participation in simple STEM activities. Being given a chance to interact with others and touch different materials is monumental.  Our PreK students may lack certain skills but they also have wide imaginations and curiosity. We need to continue to ensure that these natural instincts are nurtured through problem solving.