For years, Mounds View Public Schools has recognized the need to prepare its students for a rapidly changing world. In response, schools have readapted curriculum to focus more on preparing students in the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math — often referred to as STEM.
In fall 2012, all middle schools added an arts component to this approach, turning STEM into a standards-based STEAM program.
At left, watch a brief video on the middle schools' journey from STEM to STEAM, and hear from leaders involved in the process.
STEM vs. STEAM
Middle school students are no strangers to STEM projects. For years, teachers have been emphasizing how science, technology, engineering and math relate to each other, while also integrating STEM concepts as part of their students' assignments as well as their own professional development efforts.
Research shows students will have a deeper understanding of course material if the concepts are addressed in a variety of curriculum content areas. When the STEAM program is fully developed, there will be a number of well-established, highly refined interdisciplinary projects and other standards-based learning activities for students that integrate:
• Creative expression and problem solving
• Use of technology and engineering processes
• Understanding of relevant societal realities
Edgewood's magnet school In fall 2012, Edgewood Middle School in Mounds View will host a STEAM-based magnet program enrolling up to 60 students from other school districts. To fund the program, Edgewood is receiving a $200,000 grant from Northwest Suburban Integration School District specifically targeted to magnet program development.
Edgewood was chosen to host the magnet program because of its student diversity and the capacity of its facility.
Although Edgewood will house a STEAM magnet program, students in all three middle schools will benefit from the District-wide curriculum enhancements of the STEAM program. Edgewood's magnet program will spark opportunities for replicating best practices and sharing professional development with other middle school staff around the District.
Above, watch a brief video about STEAM at Edgewood. All of the District's middle schools have implemented a STEAM curriculum for their students.
Representatives of all three schools formed a STEAM Team — a District-wide planning task force — to ensure coordination in program development so that all middle school students in the District benefit from enhancements of the program.
Although the planning is done collaboratively, each school implements STEAM elements in ways that best fit the needs of students and the programmatic realities at the individual school.
STEAM teams have developed a variety of community partnerships drawing on the talents of local companies and organizations to help implement a program with real-world value for students.
To learn more about STEAM in the middle schools, how you can participate or to read some frequently asked questions, download a STEAM brochure here.