By Rhonda Siemons, Sandy Brown, Kendra Myers, and Victoria Minor
Science and technology spaces (classrooms, labs, maker spaces, design studios, and project spaces) need to be designed to prepare future generations of integrative problem-solvers with the purpose of inspiring students to learn, explore, and discover in order to develop a deep understanding and appreciation of how to solve authentic problems.
Our current Science and Social Studies teachers in Grades 3, 4 and 5 have been challenged with redesigning their three classrooms to support our BFA Innovative initiative. These spaces will include a Digital & Thinking/Creating Space, Engineering Construction/Deconstruction Space and a Prototype Testing & Whole Group Activity Space.
Vision: In society, scientific literacy and technical competency are essential for every citizen to have in order to understand the problems facing the planet and to participate successfully in the work world. BFA’s Elementary Innovation Space is an exciting initiative where students will develop their communication, problem solving, creativity, perseverance and collaboration skills through authentic learning challenges.
The teachers along with support from Rhonda Siemons, our Technology Integration Specialist, have been actively researching what other successful institutions have done. They recently visited Woodstock Elementary’s STEM Lab, Starbase, and the UVM FABLAB. These teachers along with the new BFA Ninth Grade Academy teachers are in the early stages of forming a partnership with UVM’s Engineering Department where members of their staff have agreed to support our initiative. In addition to supporting our team of teachers, college students will serve as mentors to our BFA students.
To borrow UVM’s philosophy around their new STEM building: “The (grades 3-5 space) needs to be highly flexible, rapidly adaptable, and infinitely reconfigurable – to accommodate changing needs, evolving priorities, and new opportunities.” It is our belief that we will become an even more successful school by making science, engineering, math, technology the foundation for learning history and literacy.
UVM, The Case for STEM – “The STEM Complex we envision is not extravagant, it is essential. It is not isolating, it is engaging. It is not boastful, it is optimistic.”