STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics. STEAM includes the Arts which is a critical element for innovation when it comes to developing unique solutions to problems, beauty in design, and presenting information in engaging ways for the people to understand.
By 2030, the number of STEM jobs will grow at a higher rate than non-STEM fields – with positions in computing, engineering, and advanced manufacturing leading the way (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Today there is a national shortage of students in the STEM pipeline and a shortage of workers prepared for high-paying STEM careers.
As a way to ignite curiosity and motivation for STEAM related fields, the district has been researching opportunities that will develop the “21st Century Skills” our BK - 12 students need.
In the 2023-24 school year, the district will be moving “full STEAM ahead” with a functional SmartLab at North Branch Elementary and Ruth Fox Middle School. The 2022-23 school year will be used to plan for the implementation. The SmartLabs will be equipped with various technology (e.g., 3D printers, padcasters, laser engraver, CNC Milling Machine), software (e.g., Stop Motion, Adobe Photoshop, Animation-ish) and learning kits (e.g., Snap Circuits, Solar, Ozobots, VEX GO). During specials, students will visit the SmartLab and go through a student-led, project-based learning approach where they put themselves in the shoes of those who are trying to solve problems in the real world.
The SmartLabs will be key to igniting and sustaining our students’ interest in STEAM by providing:
- More learning by doing
- More emphasis on student choice, agency and independence
- More emphasis on authentic STEAM tasks
- More emphasis on students developing a STEAM identity early
- More emphasis on students finding STEAM role models
During the 2022-23 school year, North Branch High School will be looking at STEAM pathways that will strengthen our 9th-12th grade programming for the 2023-24 school year.