Thursday, August 22, 2013

What does it mean to be a STEM school?

4-5's testing the results of the solar ovens they designed and built in teams

In a recent article in MindShift, educator Anne Jolly sums up the criteria for a lesson that authentically fulfills STEM goals:

– Does it engage students in the engineering design process?
– Do students address a real-world problem?
– Do they work in teams to solve this problem?
– Are there multiple possible solutions?
– Do students get to explore and come up with ideas on their own, without being spoon-fed?

It strikes me that these criteria describe the whole learning philosophy at Parker.  If you substitute "learning" for engineering in the first point, it is a pretty exact fit for almost any project.

STEM is a hot term right now, and rightly so.  It encapsulates the idea that if we want students to become effective thinkers for the future, we need to innovate in the ways we teach them.

This list will be a great touchstone for teachers to use in assessing their plans for the year.