There has been a lot of buzz going on about the new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Schools are starting to shape their curriculum concepts around the platform, and some even start from the ground up, as seen with the Portsmouth STEM Academy. Notre Dame is jumping on the bandwagon, but bringing its own twist to provide a STREAM educational platform.
STREAM stands for science, technology, religion, engineering, art and mathematics. These highlights will be the focuses of a new program at Notre Dame Elementary. It is the collaborative blending of five concepts through the platform of the Catholic faith in an exploratory and inquiry based learning environment.
The school is describing the program with ten characteristics. The ten characteristics are: 1. Seek to integrate Catholic identity. 2. Provide a challenging learning environment. 3. Promote a culture of innovation. 4. Increase the participation of groups that are underrepresented in the sciences. 5. Increase content literacy. 6. It is inclusive. 7. Encourage problem solving, group collaboration, and independent research. 8. Demonstrates that success can be defined in many more ways. 9. Utilize strategic planning as a blueprint. 10. STREAM schools are think forward schools.
Notre Dame Elementary is also adopting a modified block scheduling for students in grades 4, 5, & 6. The school is hoping that these changes will allow students to work to their full potential and allow teachers to teach to their strengths.
Principal Ann Kempf has been hearing about STREAM for a while now and has been intrigued by the concept, saying it is very fitting to the educational values Notre Dame Elementary upholds. She only started looking into it implementing it last year, when parents and people starting inquiring about the curriculum.
“We figure it will set us apart,” Kempf stated. “We are already unique in the sense that we are a Catholic school in Scioto County, but just adding that bit of religion and arts really make it unique for us.”
The school is starting small this year, with the fourth, fifth and sixth grade students joining the STREAM curriculum. Students will be participating in STREAM activities on Fridays.
A former instructor is returning this year to lead the project.
“I have a wonderful Spanish teacher, by the name of Karen Davis, who is returning to Notre Dame to teach and run STREAM,” Kempf said. “A lot of it will be directed by the students though; the kids will be choosing the projects they’ll be working on.”
The new STREAM education is only one family member of this new type of education, all of which that embraces growing technology.
“There are a lot of reasons that this is a very critical growth. Kids today are very in tuned to electronics, which can be very good, but then that interferes with their socialization, too,” Kempf explained. “This type of education allows them to interact with other students, we can Skype all over the world, there are so many different outreaches we can do with this and we are very excited to bring students out of the box and into the world”
Kempf said she hopes to grow on the project in upcoming years.
“The kids are so excited about it. I’ve seen several students over the summer and they’ve expressed so much excitement about block scheduling and they are excited about STREAM,” Kempf said. “When you’ve got a fourth, fifth or sixth grader excited about coming to school and learning, that is exciting in itself.”
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.