Board hears STEM update

Independent School District 834 officials gave a STEM update Thursday as the district enters year three of the program.

Director of Elementary Schools Mary Anderson and Stonebridge Elementary School teacher Denise Cote told board members that over the last year, STEM science kits have been integrated in third through fifth grades, LEGO robotics was added to sixth grade, they’ve been providing STEM and Project Lead the Way at Stillwater Area High School and started requiring STEM classes and classrooms at Stillwater and Oak-Land Junior highs. They added that college credit is being offered for PLTW classes and more technology has been added.

Anderson and Cote also reported that they have started providing pre-K STEM enrichment classes and highlighted the fabrication lab as well. A cohort class with St. Catherine University in St. Paul has also created a STEM certification program with teachers.

“There’s been high engagement and the capacity to continue to add increasingly rigorous classes, thanks to our generous partners.” Anderson said.

Those partners include Project Lead the Way, 3M Foundation, Andersen Foundation, The Partnership Plan and Hubbard Broadcasting.

This upcoming year, plans are to add the first LEGO kits to kindergarten classes, complete the St. Kate’s cohort program paid for with donations, implement ongoing STEM teacher training, host STEM open houses and create STEM focused learning environments at the elementary level. At the secondary school level, the district hopes to add additional STEM equipment and classes, increase real-world experiences for students, provide ongoing professional development and continue to build partnerships.

“The next piece is to tie this in with the community and our students,” Cote said.
One project that could possibly do that is establishing a STEM partnership with the St. Croix River Crossing project. Anderson said they have spoken with the Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation departments about how to apply STEM to the project and teach students about real-world applications they are learning in school. How involved and what exactly that would entail was something Anderson didn’t expand on at the board meeting, adding that the conversation was still in it’s infancy.

Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]