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STEM moving into elementary

On Thursday, Sept. 30, members of the community and Glencoe-Silver Lake students heard about the progression of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) model of learning into the elementary grades.
Unlike many educational innovations of the past, the STEM model looks as if it will serve our students well into the future.
The four components of the acronym STEM are the four that drive so much of our society today — from medical devices to communications to safety initiatives to energy conservation.
And the concept is one that we can all appreciate. Students use the knowledge and tools at hand to solve “real-world” programs.
Those of us of the middle-age generation remember well the classes in which we used wrenches, screwdrivers, sewing machines, ovens and other “old-timey” devices to solve problems and create products.
This is much the same concept, but is based on modern-world technology to reach viable solutions.
As instructor Scott Picha said, “It encourages them to make use of their creativity, imaginations and problem-solving skills.”
The examples of problem-solving cited by Picha and fellow teacher Heather Peirce were almost mind-boggling. The idea of third graders using the property of flight to design a glider plane that can air drop emergency supplies to a disaster area is amazing. Those are the kind of concepts that used to be reserved for the brainy nerds in high school physics classes or college-level engineering classes.
It’s an exciting time to be a student at GSL.
The construction of the new school addition has been fun to watch now that the walls are finally being put into place.
But what is now happening inside those walls is equally fun to watch.
And while we probably won’t be allowed to help with the construction, we are being encouraged to come within those walls to help with children’s education. In fact, STEM and Project Lead the Way are looking for volunteers to work with students in the classroom, lend their expertise or to participate in planned family night activities.
We encourage you to check out. You can help and, in the process, you may learn a thing or two from your elementary student.