When it comes to learning about STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math – it’s all about hands-on activities. Just ask students at Audubon Elementary School in Pennsylvania’s Methacton School District. Some days they are engineers learning to build the tallest tower. Or they might be writing computer code on a visit to the school library. Or learning to use a 3D printer that seems like something out of the latest Star Wars movie. Except it’s not a movie. It’s happening right now, in their school.
The new emphasis on STEM education at the school has been driven by Audubon second-grade teacher Pam Craig and her colleague, Darlene Balaguer-Piernock. The two teachers became innovators in their classrooms after completing a STEM Letter of endorsement program offered by Wilkes University and Discovery Education. The two are among the first to complete the program.
The 12-credit, four-course online program prepares teachers to create and implement STEM activities in their classrooms, develop STEM lessons and to develop a STEM culture in their schools. That’s exactly what has done at Audubon – with great success. They are sharing what they’ve learned with other teachers at their school.
“I decided to create awareness by creating a “Spotlight on STEM” bulletin board and digital newsletter that I do each month,” Craig says. “I feature a STEM activity that’s happening in our school and explain how it relates to STEM.”
Balaguer-Piernock wrote a grant application that secured the 3D printer for Audubon. It is the centerpiece of a maker lab in the school library.
“I have been working on implementing the 3D printer. I began holding meetings with the staff at my school to get them familiar with using Tinkercad and Makerbot websites. We are looking at projects to integrate with their curriculum,” Balaguer-Piernock says. “For example, our guidance counselor will be looking at having students design their own worry dolls. Plus, we will be using our 3D printer with other grade levels as well. It has been very exciting to be able to practically use the 3D printer in meaningful ways.”
The STEM activities that the two teachers have brought to their school are part of a STEM plan that each developed as part of classes in the Wilkes University-Discovery Education STEM Letter of Endorsement program. The two teaches laud the program for its emphasis on project-based learning and for activities it introduced such as virtual field trips, technology integration, awareness of all of Discovery Education’s tools, interdisciplinary lesson planning, global education, and more.
Craig notes that STEM is part of the Methacton School District’s strategic plan and the STEM projects completed in the STEM endorsement program are moving the district forward in meeting the strategic plan goals.
The emphasis on STEM makes sense. The United States Department of Commerce estimates that STEM occupations are expected to grow by 18 percent through 2018. Applying science, technology, engineering and math to solve real-world problems has expanded from industry and is being emphasized in schools across the country.
For more information about the STEM letter of endorsement program, as well as the Wilkes University and Discovery Education online master’s degree in Instructional Media, visit masters.discoveryeducation.com.
About Wilkes University:
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university is on a mission to create one of the great small universities, offering all of the programs, activities, and opportunities of a large, research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small, liberal arts college, at a cost that is increasingly competitive with public universities. The Economist named Wilkes 25th in the nation for the value of its education for graduates. In addition to 41 bachelor’s degree programs, Wilkes offers 25 master's degree programs and four doctoral/terminal degree programs including the doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education, doctor of pharmacy, and master of fine arts in creative writing. Learn more at www.wilkes.edu.
About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.