STEM Brings SMILE to BFA

On a normal Friday night, the science hallway at BFA would be quiet. But on Friday January 15th, the students in BioMath eagerly presented their final projects to a packed room that included parents, community members and other students.

SMILE3

Throughout the semester, students visited local worksites to make connections. From their visits, they selected an area of interest and developed a question to examine further.

“I enjoyed going to the different sites. It was good to take field trips and get out of the classroom on a hot day. I really enjoyed studying and researching my topic. I felt like I learned a lot about it, and that it was something new, not just the same information on every different website.” – A G , 10th grade

Once the students had determined a topic, they utilized the math and science concepts from the class to find an answer to their question. These culminating projects explored Science and Math in Industries and Local Ecosystems – or SMILE for short.

“It was easy to see the correlation between math and science in the different places.” – C S , 10th grade

Alexis S

On presentation night, the students explained their research, answered questions and truly demonstrated their learning. Parents and community members circulated from poster to poster for a full hour. It was not uncommon to hear a parent say, “I learned something about…”.

“The students were very proud of their work and it was clear that the parents were also impressed with the final product and the learning.” – Jensen Welch, Math Teacher

SMILE1

In addition to the community presentation in the evening, the students also shared their work with other high school students during the afternoon.

“The presentation night was fun with all of the people, food, and friends.” – A F, 10th grade

One of the best aspects of each presentation was that students identified an area for further research based on the work they had done for this project. Elementary and Middle school teachers have asked for volunteers to share their research with younger students.

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“We were motivated to engage the students with authentic learning opportunities from our experience with Place-based education this summer at CREST (Champlain Research Experience for Secondary Teachers). In visiting the various businesses and facilities, the students could see classmates, recent BFA graduates, and community members relying on math and science to inform their work. This approach to education is more difficult to predict and align with a preset curriculum, but the level of student engagement and opportunity for inquiry made it well worth the effort.” – Gabe Grant, Biology Teacher

So, even though the initial question may have been answered and the formal presentations are over, students have realized that the work of a researcher is never done. But for now these students have plenty to SMILE about!


Target 1. Proficiency-Based Personalized Learning: FWSU students and staff design and engage in proficiency-based personalized learning that integrates collaborative inquiry, problem solving, and creativity.

Indicators of Success: Students join with staff in directing their educational experiences as independent, goal-oriented, and reflective learners. Teachers provide learners with multiple pathways for meeting standards so that students achieve proficiency in essential areas of learning.

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