Scientific teaching method promotes deeper questions, answers
Posted February 6, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — There's a national push to help students focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
Schools with that emphasis, called STEM schools, have special technology facilitators and foreign language instructors designed to get kids ready for the 21st Century.
At York Elementary School, the STEM curriculum turns almost every classroom into a mini-science fair. Students use a scientific approach to solve problems.
"You ask yourself, 'What's the problem here?' Then you can imagine how you solve this problem and work it out," fifth grader Alexandra Vincent said. "And you plan what you're going to do exactly."
By weaving science, technology, engineering and math into lessons throughout the day, STEM schools promote more critical thinking and problem solving.
"The questions are higher order thinking," teacher Alicen Lynch said. "The answers are deeper."
Five schools in Wake County – three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school – became STEM schools in 2011.
Kids at these schools are also getting a chance to work with technology more often. Each grade level has about 30 iPads that students can use to record and photograph experiments.
And the change in approach doesn't just impact students. Teachers have to change their game as well.
"I think to myself, "The things I'm teaching them now, I personally didn't learn about until seventh or eighth grade,'" Lynch said. "It kind of blows my mind, you know?"
York Elementary, Hilburn Drive Elementary Aversboro Elementary, Carroll Middle School and Knightdale High School all became STEM schools in August. They are part of a statewide group of schools all dedicated to enhanced strategic planning, professional development, programming and community advocacy around the core topics within the curriculum. York Elementary using STEM teaching method
And while the STEM approach has only been available at York Elementary for a few months, it's already changing the minds of some students.
"Before I only wanted to become a dancer," Vincent said. "Now, I'm leaning toward a scientist."
York Elementary will hold a STEM expo March 24.