There is a lot of buzz these days around the concept of STEM teaching. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Indeed, these are important subjects, and I believe the national initiatives to focus our educational system on enhanced STEM teaching and learning are needed. Seneca Academy held its first STEM fair last winter to celebrate our students thinking in these areas. However, I don’t believe that separate events or activities around STEM learning are the only way to go. I believe that embedding STEM thinking and learning into students’ everyday activities makes STEM concepts relevant and meaningful. Students need to be engaged in STEM activities, creating projects and solving their own problems, as opposed to just hearing or reading about them. We weave STEM into our daily curriculum when students create solutions to problems, make hypotheses, use different types of technology to reach different goals and use mathematics to reach conclusions and represent information. Everyday classroom materials provide opportunities to build, experiment, and manipulate materials independently. We do not isolate these disciplines, focusing on “science” for 50 minutes and then moving to “math” followed by “reading” etc. Rather, we weave STEM concepts (along with reading, writing, art, music and, when possible, Spanish) throughout our units of inquiry. Students are therefore able to tackle concepts such as weather in the 2nd grade, force and motion in the 4th grade, simple machines in kindergarten, body systems in the 3rd grade, how things move in preschool 3’s classes, senses in the 1st grade, cycles in preschool 4’s classes, and matter in the 5th grade through experiments and projects that allow them to make their own sense of these topics. Of course, these are only a sampling of the many topics explored by Seneca Academy students using scientific, technology, engineering and math thinking skills.
The article below from eSchool News highlights the need at all levels of education to enhance the way we teach STEM subjects. The author promotes project-based learning, which is closely aligned with the inquiry teaching and learning we engage in here at Seneca Academy.