Debuting this year, the SJS STEM lab provides students with new and exciting ways to learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills. Students in grades K-4 engage in STEM education in the lab once a week for 45 minutes, and students in grades 5-8 participate in STEM labs twice a week.
How we implement STEM instruction differs across grades. Middle school students are broken into partners, and the partners rotate through nine different STEM stations. These stations include circuitry, computer graphics, digital communications, mechanics and structures, robotics, scientific data and analysis, software engineering, and sustainability. They work in a given station for seven class periods. On the first day the partners outline an objective for themselves, and then they work for several class periods to accomplish the objective. By the seventh day, the partners present their findings to the class.
The elementary students work through the same stations, but some adjustments are made to support their learning needs. Instead of being split into partners, the elementary classes are divided in half, and each half works on a given project. For example, in the 4th grade, half of the class worked on computer skills, and the other half of the class built structures using K'Nex. Also, the timeline for working on the projects is shorter for the younger grades. Like the older classes, the younger grade also share their work with the class at the end of the challenge.
The STEM curriculum is custom-designed for SJS and developed through Creative Learning Systems. Some of the programs students will explore include Makey Makey, Snap Circuits, SketchUp, Punch! Home Design, Comic Life, CrazyTalk, Frames, IQ Key, Bridge Design, K'Nex, Zometool, Lego Mindstorm EV3, Vernier Scientific sensors, Scratch, Stencyl, Abode Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, and more.
The generous donations of parents, family, and friends to last year’s Unity Gala Fund-a-Cause has made the SJS STEM lab a reality. Our entire school community is grateful, and the students couldn’t be more excited to engage with and learn from the STEM challenges!