One principal reveals the science behind starting a successful STEM program

stem-studentsInterested in making the jump to STEM learning at your school? Mine was too. As an elementary math magnet school for nearly two decades, Mound School was looking for a way to further incorporate science into the curriculum. After receiving a federal grant from the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, we altered our approach and sought to transition to a STEM curriculum.

Now in our first full year of implementation, we have a few suggestions to help other schools replicate our success.

1. Integrate hands-on practice
Historically, our curriculum was primarily focused on math integration with some teachers offering science lessons a couple times a week, while others only a couple times a month. In order to properly become a science magnet school, we needed a new approach. One way we sought to better integrate science into our curriculum was by dedicating one classroom as the science lab, a space for students (and teachers!) to practice science in a hands-on way.

We also pursued several strategic partnerships with local farms, allowing us to connect our students to the agriculturally rich community in which we live. In addition to these partnerships, we also established a school garden. Both of these opportunities have been a great way to transform traditional classroom learning into a hands-on practice. By allowing students to take variables discussed in the classroom and put them to the test in their garden, you are giving them real-life insight into the experiences of both scientists and farmers.

(Next page: Contests, incentives, iPads, and more tips to enhance science)