Standard 7

STANDARD 7 

PROJECT-BASED LEARNING AND INQUIRY: Students engage collaboratively in authentic inquiry during ongoing units of study.

INITIATIVES/ACTIONS: 
- Increased opportunities for STEM in all content areas



What It Looks Like

As we developed our STEM program to be school inclusive, it has become the philosophy of Beaufort Elementary School to teach students to work together collaboratively on a common task. As a school, we focus on the Engineering Design Process.  It enhances team building and being able to think critically when solving problems.  STEM challenges create opportunities for classroom teachers to provide an environment where students work collaboratively, communicate with one another, and give feedback to each other.  Students work through the Engineering Design Process as they design and create solutions to problems. STEM provides the opportunity for student driven learning by the teacher providing a problem with specific criteria and constraints while students work collaboratively to plan and design a solution.  Students conduct research to determine the best possible materials or process for the solution.  This research may include experimentation where students utilize inquiry skills.  Communication and questioning by students are essential to the process. 


EDP

It enhances team building and being able to think critically when solving problems. STEM challenges create opportunities for classroom teachers to provide an environment where students work collaboratively, communicate with one another, and give feedback to each other. Students work through the Engineering Design Process as they design and create solutions to problems. STEM provides the opportunity for student-driven learning by the teacher providing a problem with given parameters, and students then work collaboratively to plan and design a solution. Students conduct research to determine the best possible materials or processes for the solution. This research may include experimentation where students utilize inquiry skills. Communication and questioning by students are essential to the process. 



Railroad
geometry

STEM Bins provide our younger grades an opportunity to engage collaboratively with materials that can be used to solve a problem or challenge.   The tasks in these bins encourage students to use inquiry skills while asking questions about how they can solve problems in multiple ways. Experiences like this help our students become intrinsic problem solvers. 

We work closely with local agencies such as the Fripp Audubon Society, Friends of the River (River of Words initiative), and the Port Royal Maritime Center to help students see problems affecting our local environment and plan partner solutions.  Our students worked with Seeds to Shoreline to help offset salt marsh dieback in our local marsh.  Students in 5th grade design, build models, and test solutions to prevent erosion as part of their weathering unit.

Strengths

There is an expectation throughout the school that students work collaboratively to solve problems.  We work closely with local agencies to help students see the wonder and uniqueness of their local environment and learn the value of conservation as they plan solutions to problems. Our belief is that collaboration is a key skill that students must have in order to be successful in the future.

Sustainability

We strive to have students be a community of learners where they communicate with one another in productive ways.  We incorporate cooperative learning throughout the curriculum but especially as we work through the EDP.  Groups must communicate in order to compromise on a plan before creating a solution. We continue to seek out opportunities for community involvement for our students.

Challenges

Our diverse population poses somewhat of a challenge when it comes to collaboration. Many students lack opportunities and experiences that others have which may sometimes make them hesitant to collaborate with others.  Another challenge in finding authentic experiences is that interests and areas of motivation vary over different demographic groups. We need to take careful consideration of the authentic problems that students are presented with in order to motivate all learners.  Our local marsh is a common topic that students relate to in various ways and its preservation whether for beauty or the importance in providing resources is of interest to the students of our school.

Continuous Improvement

We work hard to equip our students with the skills to work effectively with one another.  This training begins at a young age with modeling and exemplars for behaviors when collaborating.  While students do participate in many STEM learning experiences that involve real world problems, we would like to include more problems that have local impact and are relevant to our community.