What is STEM? What is a STEM school? What do STEM lessons teach students? To find the answers, simply walk into Bullard Elementary School where students are engrossed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) integrated projects.
Bullard Elementary holds a STEM certification from the Cobb County School District. That makes Bullard a model for how to teach STEM education. From kindergarten to fifth grade, the entire school participates in solving real-world problems.
Fifth grade is investigating erosion and with the help of outside volunteers is designing a plan to ease erosion just beyond the doors of their classroom. Another STEM project includes students cutting and molding rain gauges to measure rainfall. Understanding germs to stay healthy—that is the goal for the kindergartners who have used their science skills to take samples of germs in their environment, their math standards to calculate how many germs they found, and their engineering knowledge to create models of the germs. Building 3-D models of germs is not something found in most kindergarten classrooms, but most schools are not STEM certified like Bullard.
Bullard students have used the engineering design process to build various housing types including ones that float or stand on stilts. They also have had to design a model that shows the effects of erosion, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or other destructive forces.
Like the other STEM lessons, third graders have covered some of their standards with hands-on STEM projects like investigating how to grow and maintain a sustainable garden. They don’t just read about soil types. They get their hand’s dirty planting and collecting information about the plants growing in the garden.
Showing the students how the school lessons relate to life beyond the classroom is an essential part of the STEM program at Bullard.
Students hear from volunteers who use the same standards they are studying in school. For example, a weather-expert from the Weather Channel gave the students insight into how their STEM lessons apply to the real world and can help them draft weather forecasts today.
Thanks to the STEM program, Bullard students are already seeing how what they learn in the classroom will help them today, tomorrow, and in future careers.