Standard 14

STANDARD 14 

STEM SKILLS AND COMPETENCIES: Students develop STEM skills and cross-cutting competencies that support workforce readiness.
 

INITIATIVES/ACTIONS: 
- Planning and creating opportunities for students to interact with people working in various STEM careers
- Providing abundant opportunities for students to learn the skills necessary to be successful and productive members of society




What Does It Look Like?

In our school, students develop STEM skills and cross-cutting competencies that support workforce readiness. While engaging in our numerous STEM opportunities, teachers first reference the World Class Skills of creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and teamwork, communication, information, media, and technology, and knowing how to learn.  Many of these skills are cultivated through the school-wide use of the engineering design process. We are developing workforce readiness through Career Characteristics (Integrity, Self-direction, Global Perspective, Perseverance, Work Ethic, Interpersonal Skills) as noted in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.  It is a goal of our school to have students communicate appropriately, make eye contact, and demonstrate respect.  Developing these skills allows the students to share their knowledge with confidence. They also provide the students with the necessary behaviors important not only for success in school, but also for success in the workforce.

Graduate Profile  STEM Profile

With our purposeful implementation of the Engineering Design Process and our Essential 5 schoolwide behavior initiative, students are able to showcase their proficiency in South Carolina’s World Class Skills. By consistently solving problems like building knee braces for injured knees, making shoes for children in Africa to wear as they collect water, and constructing Tar-pul bridges to make it safely across dangerous ravines, the students have had the engineering process ingrained in them. It is evident that students are utilizing their creativity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving when engaged in these activities. In addition, when these projects are team-based, students are collaborating, recording, and presenting outcomes, which provides an opportunity to communicate information. Various forms of technology are woven through the STEM process such as computer assisted research, ways of recording data, and 3-D printing.  Students have used the 3-D printers for various projects such as adding something to the birdhouses they designed and a piece to make their westward expansion vehicle more successful.  This year we purchased a class set of 3-D pens that the teachers are beginning to incorporate into their lessons. Our first experience with the pens was creating ornaments that showed a significant event in history to hang on a Historical Tree. Now that the faculty has been trained in the use of the 3-D pens, there is already talk of using them to create artifacts from certain periods in history. We continue to build upon these world class skills through computer science class, Lego Lab, Makerspace and classrooms where we continue with the same common language and processes to make STEM education more cohesive.

Click here for a larger view of SOAR at BES

Essential 5    SOAR

Students also participate in our yearly STEM Career Fair, where members of the community in STEM related fields provide invaluable insight into their chosen career path and how it relates to various STEM concepts. Students can engage in a multitude of career choices, ranging from welding to aviation to conservation. We look to build upon the aforementioned careers by weaving them into our school-wide STEM curriculum.  



Strengths

A strength is that we know our students and know what they need to prepare them for a successful future.  We incorporate academic skills along with soft skills that students need to be productive members of society. We are aware of the diversity of our learners and we incorporate experiences that provide students with schema which allow them to solve real world -problems. Another area of strength is that we try to develop empathy for others when we have students design solutions for problems that children in other countries face.

Sustainability

We had professional development geared toward reaching students of poverty and how to engage them in learning. Some of these include multiple book studies, visits to the Ron Clark Academy, and Responsive Classroom training.  We seek out training on how to meet the specific needs of our students.

Challenges

Many of our students lack skills and experiences that allow them to collaborate, effectively communicate, and apply critical thinking skills in an academic setting. The students also lack perseverance in problem solving.  Some students have experienced being “unsuccessful”, so if something doesn’t work the first time, they typically quit trying.  Sometimes students fear having different ideas, so it impedes their creativity.

Continuous Improvement

We must purposefully create an environment where students feel safe.  We need to continuously encourage students to think differently.  We need to constantly stress “improvement” so that students internalize the belief that one failure is not the end of the process.  Another area that we need to enhance is having more discussions about careers in the STEM field and guests that describe their job as it relates to the curriculum being taught.