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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

STEM Middle School

STEM Middle School

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What would a successful stem magnet school, at middle school, look like? Science,math linked to engineering?

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Donna Markey's picture

[quote]What would a successful stem magnet school, at middle school, look like?

Science,math linked to engineering?[/quote]

I teach 8th grade at a STEM magnet school. We have kids from all over the district so we match our district's percentages (40% second language learners, approx 55% free and reduced lunch, etc.) We have an 8 period day (other schools have 7) and provide a double period of math and and a double period of science every day (87 minutes) in 6th, 7th and 8th. We incorporate technology and engineering in science as well host an engineering club in which almost 25% of our kids participate with help from volunteers from local industries. With the extra time in math class, all of our kids take accelerated math. In 7th grade, the top 30% take Alg 1 (normally an 8th or 9th grade class). In 8th grade ALL students take algebra 1 and our top students take either geometry or geo-trig. Our geo-trig kids enter high school taking classes with juniors and seniors. We have even had a few kids go beyond geo-trig in 8th grade by taking Alg 2 and/or trig online. Our test scores in math, science and even LA are the highest in the district, even though there are higher socio-economic schools in the district. We do a lot of project based learning and a lot of cross-curricular teaming.

Susan Arntson's picture

I've been working to get the backing of our building to enhance our curriculum with more STEM connections. The idea of a STEM cohort within the larger school population is a good pilot model for us to consider and it gives us a springboard to expand into a wider STEM focus in a few years. Can you share a bit more about the planning timeline and major considerations you dealt with? What issues came up with the staff? I'm already brainstorming with my principal and the community foundation. Thanks for the interesting idea.

Linda Deneher's picture
Blogger 2014

I am in the planning stages for a project-based STEM Independent Study with LEGO robotics. Is anyone here using LEGOs, and if so, what things are popular with your learners?

John Howe's picture
John Howe
Assistant Principal STEM Coordinator

It is great to find this discussion! The leading question is, "How will we know we're successful as STEM Middle Schools?" I think there are several ways. A couple would be that our students have a positive attitude about science, technology, engineering and math and go on to pursue STEM courses in high school and beyond. A metric we use is to count the (growing) number of our students choosing STEM classes and activities. When we started four years ago we had 25 students in MathCounts. This year we will exceed 1000 STEM 'touches' in MathCounts, FLL, Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, Science Olympiad, our STEM Summer Institute, exploratory classes, and more. This metric is easy to track and is an indirect measure of attitude. What do others do?
We at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colordo, a STEM Middle School, are working on a STEM Middle School Model. Right now it is looing like a school with these five facets: 1) A rigorous and engaging curriculum, 2) exploratory classes in STEM, 3) real-world research/projects, 4)challenging extra-curricular STEM activities, and 5) STEM mentors.
What are others thinking?

Dr James P McGinn's picture
Dr James P McGinn
MS Science Teacher in Atlantic City, NJ

Are there any sample/model curriculum guides out there to show as examples of what it could/should look like?

Allen Berg's picture
Allen Berg
curriculum and projects learning centers

Dear James McGinn,

I am a retired classroom teacher but still an active teacher/learner/creator, so I can share my new wikispace curriculm adventure in HS Geometry/STEM/STEAM as a creative open-ended resource for you to use any way that you wish...
http://edutopia.wikispaces.com/
and at: https://hsgeometryadventure.wikispaces.com

It is very Arts & Crafts oriented and has a full range of skill-levels from elementary to university, so Middle Schoolers can jump in with your guidance and particular enthusiasms...
I will highlight the "Engineering of Everyday Things" curriculum unit with the Google Patent Search tool...this can become an all-year PBL Foundational Principle Building Block.
Also I will mention one little Enormous book:
"The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years" Edited by John Brockman
(available inexpensively at amazon.com)
And lastly the Power of Google IMAGES Search tool...

I would be happy to keep our dialogue on-going here at Edutopia, and share more specifics as time permits...

Kepler's Apprentice-in-Training :-)
Allen Berg

Danette McGovern's picture
Danette McGovern
Physical Science Teacher Grades 6 and6-8 and department advisor

Kirk- This is our second year with an Outdoor Classroom at our 6-8 Middle School. It is an incredible STEM resource. After getting approval from the conservation Comission, we obtained a small grant and partnered with an Eagle Scout troop to develop it. We have seating for 50 students and a demonstration table, 1/2 mi trail, and a bridge leading to wetlans and a vernal pool. I agree,the experiential learning offered through an outdoor classroom helps us to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of all learners.

Johnny Pierce's picture
Johnny Pierce
Principal Red Bank Middle School , Chattanooga Tn.

We are currently researching and developing a STEM school. Any suggestions on good websites that could get us started?

Tiffany's picture

I am in search of an example of a middle school unit as a good model/example.... Can anyone help?

USL Go Global's picture
USL Go Global
can make average students learn math and science 7-20+ times faster

A great topic! As a newbie, I am a bit lost, but I have my own version of an answer to this.

I just finished pilot studies to prove the effectiveness and speed of Unified Super Learning (USL) which can make average students learn STEM subjects 10-20 times faster in general. In the pilot tests, however, I simply focused on Math (K7-11).

What I did was - with the collaborations with a middle and a high school - that I taught 1 month math materials in simply 1 lecture for about 35-50 minutes and nothing more. Students had no review notes, no homeworks, no extra solutions, no sharing of my website, nor Facebook links, nada due to some strange and strict school policies.

When all the students took the tests 2 days after my class, their average jumped up more or less 20% (between 15-27% rise) while the expected % gain for students who take the regular school classes were 30-40% average after 1 month study for which the average students spend about 50-60 hours in total for the math classes.

The pilot studies consisted of about 270 students from these 2 schools and you can view some of the data and survey results from my website http://www.uslgoglobal.com

Nothing even remotely similar has ever been done on Math education, let alone science education, this is a totally ground-breaking work and I hope some of you pay attention to this as I will try to run some pilot studies in the USA as well if I am invited.

By the way, there was no exaggeration in the summary I wrote here.

Good day.

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