STEM Program at St. Michael’s is Designed to Challenge (By Russell Glen, Director of STEM)
What does a STEM program encompass?
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education encompasses critical thinking, analysis and collaboration, intentionally integrated in real world contexts of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, fostering the development of STEM skills and competencies for college, career and life.
How is that programmatic concept being applied at St. Michael’s?
The overarching aim of the STEM program at St. Michael’s is to provide a firm foundation of knowledge and competency for students, while introducing opportunities and cultivating passions.
Our highly skilled, enthusiastic teachers provide the structure and framework necessary for growth and advancement, while incorporating interesting and thought-provoking activities to help students realize the value and importance of the work they are doing.
If you walk down the new science wing hallways at St. Michael’s, you are likely to see students “operating” on broken pig femurs, building and driving robots up and over ramps, proving theorems in “Geometry Court,” deriving equations, designing solar ovens, performing titrations, and writing on the “Science on Display” whiteboards. These students are engaged in collaborative learning and being challenged by their teachers and each other to reach their potential in the STEM disciplines.
We want students to think expansively and make connections between what they are learning in all of their classes. Students must acquire the ability to take information and apply it to a problem – a marriage between content and application. Ultimately, our challenge is to inspire students to develop critical thinking skills, to realize that learning will be difficult but meaningful work, and to know they can live lives of value and importance when they find the place where their interests and passions intersect with aptitude. For some students, that will be found in the STEM realm, but all benefit from the skills and habits of mind that come from such an active and engaging learning environment.
Courses available to students are appropriate to a college preparatory high school curriculum. General topics, such as Biology, Chemistry, Algebra, and Computer Science are taught in interesting, real world ways. Leading edge courses, such as Robotics, Environmental Science, CAD, and 3D Modeling, cast an eye to the future. A range of choices allows students to pursue an already identified passion or discover a hidden one. Further, our small class size allows students to receive an individualized education that translates well to university studies.
In addition to the courses that students may take for semester credit, the STEM contribution to Winter Term is significant. This year, students may explore thermal and optical physics, learn about probability through games, fly a commercial grade drone, perform scientific inquiry experiments in Big Bend National Park, and more. Winter Term itself is strengthened and made meaningful by teachers exploring and sharing their passions with students.
STEM faculty anticipate that students will not only learn the material and skills vital to their current and future success in the classroom, but also that they will appreciate the value of authentic learning by employing the critical thinking,
analysis and collaboration that is the STEM experience. The pace of change in our world ensures that learning doesn’t end upon leaving school. Those students that actively pursue learning for a lifetime will be able to successfully meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.