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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

STEM Middle School

STEM Middle School

Related Tags: STEM
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22 Replies 11838 Views
What would a successful stem magnet school, at middle school, look like? Science,math linked to engineering?

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Chad Pavlekovich's picture
Chad Pavlekovich
6-7-8 Lead STEM Science Teacher @ SMS STEM Program, Salisbury, Maryland

Lynne,

Salisbury Middle School in Salisbury Maryland initiated a STEM academy this year in grades 6-7-8. This program that I have had the pleasure of being the lead teacher of came out of a need for making science more relevant in our students lives and possibly their futures. What we have developed, and believe me it is still a work in progress and will be for quite sometime is a academy that revolves around the science curriculum. We currently have 30 students from each grade level enrolled in the program. Students are not all "magnet students", our school board would not allow us to create an "elitist" program. We have students that are at or above grade level in their reading and mathematics skills these scores are based on various standardized and quarterly tests). The population of our academy reflects the demographics of our school and the classes are basically split 50/50 boy-girl. We have taken a somewhat different approach to the STEM idea. Due to scheduling issues and board reservations we do not have a dedicated STEM math class. STEM students all have math at the same time but in their respected levels. Also in our program we have incorporated history classes (which have all the STEM students are in the same grade level classes) as well as our RELA (reading,English, language arts)classes. Tech ed and computers are also in the schedule. Since the science curriculum drives this program, we have worked on bridging the topic across all classes. For example in 7th grade we studied bacteria and viruses, in my classes we cultured bacteria samples from around the school and and compared and identified what was found. Students developed the experimental lab procedures by researching how microbiologists conduct their research and created their own procedures and followed through the experiment. In History class, students discussed the effects of plagues and pandemics on populations and civilizations from around the world and through time. In our RELA classes students read the novel Fever 1793 and related the story to what was being done in their other classes. In the Tech ed classes students looked at city maps and planned how to evacuate and quarantine the city based on the rate various factors. Students worked with models of cityscapes and GPS maps to come to their conclusions. In computer class students took raw data from various pandemics and charted, graphed and predicted outcomes and possible outcome based on various factors. This looks a lot like thematic learning, and for the most part it is, but the emphasis is on the science and the other STEM components that makes this unique. The other major part of our program is the career component. We make sure that whatever unit we are discovering, we include people who have careers in STEM fields that are relevant to the area of study. We believe that it is important for our students to get to talk to "real people" who have careers in STEM related fields. There is so much more I can tell you about this program which is receiving great praise from our students, parents and community. If you are interested in discussing this further, you can reach me at Salisbury Middle school 410-677-5149. Hope this helped?

Chad

Janice Kibbe's picture
Janice Kibbe
Magnet Resource Teacher

Hi,
I just joined this group this evening and am thrilled to see so many people working hard to do just what we are in Springfield, MA. We opened our STEM Middle Academy in Sept. '09 with 100 6th graders. This past fall we added an additional 100 students. Next fall we will reach capacity with 300 6th-8th graders. We are doing as many integrated STEM units as possible. That means students are doing a STEM unit across the curriculum. We have mapped our curriculum to see where we have cross pollination opportunities. Right now we are about to have our Celebration of Learning for a "Voyage to Mars" integrated unit with our 6th graders and their families. 7th graders will host a Forensics Dinner Theater celebration for their families through a mystery play and demonstration of the forensics skills they've developed.
We have built an inaugural garden and had our ribbon cutting event a few weeks ago. I'd love to talk more about schools integrating STEM across the curriculum. Check out our website at http://www.sps.springfield.ma.us/stem

Susan Arntson's picture

What a great site! I've been exploring how to bring a more consistent STEM focus to middle schools in our district and its encouraging to hear about all the efforts out there. I've already culled a beginning list of critical steps for successful STEM classrooms here. I look forward to sharing more -

Jane Krauss's picture
Jane Krauss
Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

It would have computer science at every grade. Using inclusive practices and geared toward innovation.

Susan Lavrey's picture

What a great idea! We have an unused courtyard at our school that we've been trying to think what to do with--thanks for the tip!

Donna Markey's picture

Chad,
The unit you described sounds similar to SEPUP's (Science Education for Public Understanding Program) Cell Biology and Disease unit from Issues and Life Science. In that unit kids "map death" with John Snow and study microorganisms as they relate to disease transmission. They finish the unit by figuring out the cause of "Maracondo Fever" that is wiping out a small village in the rainforest.

Chandra Bell's picture

As a middle school math teacher, I would like to incorporate STEM activities as part of my curriculum and instruction. Is there a good resource that I can use to get started? Most resources I've seen focus more on the science and less on the math component. Where can I find STEM activities/projects that targets the grade level math that I teach?

Rob Weinberg's picture

I was wondering about two things. First, would you explain the structure, including cohort grouping, scheduling, etc. of the STEM Academy. Second, are you a Technology Education certified teacher?

Thank you for your response.

[quote]Lynne,

Salisbury Middle School in Salisbury Maryland initiated a STEM academy this year in grades 6-7-8. This program that I have had the pleasure of being the lead teacher of came out of a need for making science more relevant in our students lives and possibly their futures. What we have developed, and believe me it is still a work in progress and will be for quite sometime is a academy that revolves around the science curriculum. We currently have 30 students from each grade level enrolled in the program. Students are not all "magnet students", our school board would not allow us to create an "elitist" program. We have students that are at or above grade level in their reading and mathematics skills these scores are based on various standardized and quarterly tests). The population of our academy reflects the demographics of our school and the classes are basically split 50/50 boy-girl. We have taken a somewhat different approach to the STEM idea. Due to scheduling issues and board reservations we do not have a dedicated STEM math class. STEM students all have math at the same time but in their respected levels. Also in our program we have incorporated history classes (which have all the STEM students are in the same grade level classes) as well as our RELA (reading,English, language arts)classes. Tech ed and computers are also in the schedule. Since the science curriculum drives this program, we have worked on bridging the topic across all classes. For example in 7th grade we studied bacteria and viruses, in my classes we cultured bacteria samples from around the school and and compared and identified what was found. Students developed the experimental lab procedures by researching how microbiologists conduct their research and created their own procedures and followed through the experiment. In History class, students discussed the effects of plagues and pandemics on populations and civilizations from around the world and through time. In our RELA classes students read the novel Fever 1793 and related the story to what was being done in their other classes. In the Tech ed classes students looked at city maps and planned how to evacuate and quarantine the city based on the rate various factors. Students worked with models of cityscapes and GPS maps to come to their conclusions. In computer class students took raw data from various pandemics and charted, graphed and predicted outcomes and possible outcome based on various factors. This looks a lot like thematic learning, and for the most part it is, but the emphasis is on the science and the other STEM components that makes this unique. The other major part of our program is the career component. We make sure that whatever unit we are discovering, we include people who have careers in STEM fields that are relevant to the area of study. We believe that it is important for our students to get to talk to "real people" who have careers in STEM related fields. There is so much more I can tell you about this program which is receiving great praise from our students, parents and community. If you are interested in discussing this further, you can reach me at Salisbury Middle school 410-677-5149begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            410-677-5149      end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Hope this helped?

Chad[/quote]

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