A STEM curriculum introduces students to real-world engineering
Berrien Springs Public Schools in rural Michigan started off with a modest enough goal: to add an engineering component to their curriculum in order to draw out-of-district students to their schools and to meet anticipated state standards. But perhaps not even they could have foreseen the sea change that came next.
These days, first graders design a shoe for a traveler going to an extreme climate. Second graders investigate numerical relationships and sequence and structure required in computer programs. Fourth graders develop a vehicle restraint system. Middle and high school students build VEX robots and program them using RobotC software. They also use Autodesk Inventor to create 3D models that are then printed on their own 3D printer. And all grades are doing various levels of coding.
The breakthrough came two years ago when Berrien Springs took a cue from its neighbor to the south, Indiana, and the work they were doing with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a provider of STEM curriculum to 8,000 schools nationwide that takes a problem-based approach to learning focusing on critical thinking, problem-solving and real-world relevance. The curriculum has a strong engineering component, as well as separate units in biomedical science and computer science. A course on cybersecurity will be added in 2017.…Read More