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Full steam ahead with STEAM

Special to the Star

Gulf District Schools is committed to reinforcing the STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics) in the curriculum from an early age.

With the support of the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), the task is a bit easier.

Many STEAM projects involve teamwork which requires students to master effective dialogue skills.

Funding provided by the Panama City Post of SAME permitted the creation of mobile STEAM labs in both elementary schools that can be shared by classes. The components of STEAM can be taught independent of one another somewhat successfully. However, when those components are integrated into a blended curriculum, students begin to see their relationship to one another and to society in a whole new way.

Teaching STEAM exposes students to the creative process by giving them the opportunity to experience guided inquiry, ask thought-provoking questions, apply what has been learned, and use problem-solving strategies creatively.

Many STEAM projects involve teamwork which requires students to master effective dialogue skills. As a team member, students learn to compromise, share responsibilities, and accept the ideas of others.

STEAM projects force students to systematically think through problems and apply information that they have already learned. Students are forced to use a variety of problem-solving methods and skills as challenges surface during these activities. By engaging in hands-on, experimental learning, students are encouraged to use different materials and tools, discover how things work, how things can be improved, what works and what does not.

Cross-curricular projects allow students to see problems from different perspectives. Incorporating art in STEAM projects helps students understand how widely varied the arts are and the integral role they play in engineering, technology and math.

By introducing STEAM projects in the early elementary years, sub-groups frequently underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering see the benefit and accept that all students are able to acquire these crucial 21st century skills regardless of background or gender.

Ideally, each school should be equipped with a STEAM Lab that classes could routinely visit to participate in projects that would enhance the standard classroom curriculum. Currently, creating such labs is not feasible due to limited campus space and resources.

With that long-term goal in mind, however, SAME’s generosity helped to create mobile lab carts that can be stored in a secure, central location and easily moved between classrooms for use within a classroom. These carts are stocked with the essentials necessary for conducting STEAM projects.

Students in kindergarten and first grade would have the opportunity to create using magnetic tiles and other building manipulatives. First grade students will also be introduced robotics through Dot Dash robotic materials. For students in the second and third grades, increasingly more sophisticated classroom robot packs will be utilized. Students in upper elementary would benefit from Lego Boost packages.

Gulf District Schools wishes to express their gratitude to the Society of American Military Engineers for making this project possible.