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Tuesday, Apr. 22, 2014

Schools showcase STEaM program

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Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are a compilation of studies that are integrated to promote a 21st century style of teaching and learning.

Last week’s STEaM Week gave an opportunity for Fort Benning schools to show the community how they have been integrating STEM.

“When the Department of Defense Education Activity adopted this initiative, we as a district, have incorporated an ‘a’ in STEM, making it STEaM,” said Lorri Blanchard, instructional support specialist district education technologist and STEaM co-coordinator.

The “a” represents the arts, integrating a writing component.

“Teachers throughout the year do STEaM activities that are integrated based on their standards,” she said. “It is a more hands on approach (that) shows children all subjects areas are interrelated, (which helps) kids stay more engaged.”

Blanchard said each school chooses a real-world focus that is based on the needs of their students.

Dexter Elementary School worked with environmental issues. Stowers Elementary School focused on architectural design based off a fairy tale theme by building a house for the three little pigs, constructing a roller coaster based off of Rapunzel and a moving coach for Cinderella.

The students were only given certain materials to design the coach, but they got to choose how they wanted to build it and “how elaborate” it could be all within a time constraint, Blanchard said.

“There is a lot of measurement that brings in the math and the science (using) the pulleys, wheels, axles, force and friction,” said Kathryn Vanhorn, STEaM co-coordinator for Dexter.

“(It also) teaches collaboration, innovation, communication and critical thinking.” “Our partners, Environmental Management Division, the Army Corps of Engineers and Partners in Education, work with and help the students,” Blanchard said.

“They work with our current DoDEA standards (and) design activities for students,” she said. “I can’t rave enough about their partnership. We couldn’t do it without community support. It really has become a community endeavor here at Fort Benning.” Vanhorn said, engineering and design process has been a real focus. “White Elementary’s focus was with the Corps of Engineers,” she said. “Their problem revolved around the bridge that is down on I-185 and how it was broken. They had to create a bridge and take weights and determine which bridge could stand the weight.”

STEaM is about tying it all together, Vanhorn said.

“(It) helps children think outside the box,” Blanchard said. “They become more creative and innovative in developing ways to solve problems.”

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