Standard 13

STANDARD 13 

STEM CONTENT KNOWLEDGE: Students demonstrate STEM content knowledge representative of STEM literacy outcomes that prepare them for the next level of learning and work. 

INITIATIVES/ACTIONS: 
- Intentional planning for experiences that require students to think critically and problem solve
- Providing students with learning experiences dealing with global and local issues
- Providing resources for STEM learning



What Does It Look Like?

Over the last five years, we have been intentional with decisions to develop more inclusive STEM opportunities that benefit all students. As of the 2019-2020 school year, grades Kindergarten through five have one hundred and ten minutes of STEM in a six-day related arts rotation plus an additional seventy-five minutes a week in Engineering grades three through five. Additional time is available through the Makerspace Studio in Media Arts.

Through our STEM program, we endeavor to develop students who have a firm understanding of key concepts and knowledge of the STEM disciplines. The STEM lesson bank was developed by our teachers based on SC College and Career Readiness grade level standards. Additionally, Beaufort County School District has created curriculum guides using Rubicon Atlas that include common assessments which have been directly aligned to state standards. 

In the building, we increased STEM content knowledge through the utilization of many programs designed to develop critical thinking.  Science content knowledge is supported through Gizmos, Brainpop, Foss Kits, STC kits, Engineering is Elementary, and Delta Education Science kits along with Discovery Education Science Techbook. We have in-house PD days to develop teacher efficacy with the use of these materials. We are fortunate to have one-to-one devices for all students. Technology is utilized throughout the building for many purposes, such as Google, Pear Deck, Flocabulary, and Kami.  Technology skills are taught within the classroom as well as through our computer science class.  The engineering design process is used throughout the curriculum as teachers plan builds that apply to all content standards.  Mathematical practices are developed through the use of several programs including Exemplars, Number Talks, IXL Math, DreamBox, and Exact Path in addition to the Ready Classroom Math curriculum.

Our program also strives to incorporate literacy to cultivate STEM knowledge with our students. Books were selected that matched each grade level’s science topics and placed in all the classrooms in order to support science instruction. Additionally, there are books that address real world problems. Teachers will use these books as springboards for learning. An example of this was a recent activity based on the book Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade. After reading this book, several classes had their students design their own balloon floats. It is our goal that all students have meaningful opportunities to expand their communication skills both written and oral which will prove beneficial to students in their future educational experiences and life skills. We also strive to promote positive collaboration with peers in order to achieve goals, solve problems, and foster creativity.   

Resources
Pictured: Students Write About STEM & Books that Support STEM Learning

All of these experiences, and the information gained, have helped our students to become STEM literate.  This translates into our students having the ability to develop global awareness.  Through our program, we have encouraged students to identify trends, anticipate possibilities, analyze data, construct explanations, and design solutions.  One of the most important skills that we instill in our students is perseverance when solving problems.  These skills will help them to be successful members of society.  

Through STEM opportunities, we provide students with skills and knowledge that help prepare them for the next level of learning.   One area in which we wish to improve is teaching our children to be global thinkers.  Our goal is to increase the number of student experiences that focus on actual issues that people face. Through our STEM career fair, we introduce students to multiple career paths in the areas of STEM. 

Strengths

The programs and initiatives that we have in place to support STEM literacy have an impact on student growth.  Our staff has a voice in the decisions about what will be utilized to meet student needs.   

Sustainability

We feel that all these practices have contributed to the school’s growth as shown on the South Carolina School Report Card.  We are fortunate enough to have a wealth of materials for learning.  We have access to many software programs that enhance learning through our one to one initiative.  We also have many supplies for science materials.  In addition, we designate a substantial portion of our Title 1 budget for STEM experiences.  STEM will continue to be a priority.  We believe that it is important to continued academic growth and development of World Class Skills identified in the Profile of the SC Graduate.

Challenges

Our challenge is to ensure that teachers have the training and expertise to help them utilize our abundant resources most effectively for student learning.  Many of our students come to school lacking vocabulary and experiences resulting in a large learning gap.

Continuous Improvement

We strive to find ways to provide experiences to close the learning gap for our students.  One example is that we try to prevent students, learning through a  virtual setting, from missing out on these experiences.  We have substituted our usual STEM field trips with virtual options that all students can attend.  We also provide virtual students with supplies for several core courses.