STRATFORD SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS STEAM CURRICULUM DURING ENGINEERS WEEK
February 18, 2016
Saratoga, Calif. — Where would the world be without engineers? How do you prepare the next generation of engineers for 21st century jobs? How do you prepare American preschool, elementary and middle school students to compete in the global economy?
These and other questions will be addressed the last week of February at Stratford School’s 18 locations in the San Francisco Bay Area during 2016 Engineers Week with its 5,000 students. During Engineers Week, the Stratford student body will spend more than 20,000 hours completing engineering curriculums and projects.
“Although we’ve seen some improvement in recent years, math and science test scores of American students still lag behind other countries of the world,” says Barbara Timm-Brock, COO of Stratford School. “This has a big impact on our nation’s ability to produce a diverse pool of future engineers, scientists and leaders. Our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) curriculum integrates science, technology, engineering, math and arts earlier and more often. We start teaching STEAM fundamentals to our preschool students at age 3 and continue through middle school. This method enables our students to develop the critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills that will be required for the jobs of the future.”
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, only 29% of Americans rated America’s K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as “above average or the best in the world.” In a companion study, scientists were even more critical. Only 16% of respondents rate U.S. K-12 STEM education as “the best or above average.”
“Stratford was one of the first schools in the Bay Area to integrate visual/performing arts and liberal arts into STEM,” says Timm-Brock. “We did this because it enables students to think more holistically when it comes to issues facing engineers and scientists in the 21st century. Our experience shows they score better and that they’re more creative in their solutions. This is evident in Stratford’s recent top performance in the Future City competition.”
According to the U.S. Department of Education, drawing students to these fields is crucial to the U.S. and global economy. Documents from the Department say it is also vital to U.S. global leadership. www.ed.gov/stem. To help head off the problem, several government programs geared toward increasing the number of students and teachers proficient in STEM fields are being put into action.
Recent debate has experts wondering if engineering programs in kindergarten and at the elementary school levels may be too early. A New York Times article found that starting early can have positive outcomes.
“We believe it’s never too early to introduce these skills so students can see how they apply in real life,” adds Timm-Brock. “Our STEAM curriculum always includes the following structure: 1) problem identification, 2) team collaboration to create design solutions, 3) solutions testing, 4) refinement of promising solutions, and 5) continuous evaluation and improvement of the solutions. The last component helps students see the concepts in real life through collaboration with leading Silicon Valley engineers and scientists. We use Engineers Week to punctuate the real life applications and to introduce students early-on to careers in engineering and science.”
According to Timm-Brock, Stratford School’s focus areas for the 2016 Engineers Week include: celebrating how engineers make a difference, increasing student knowledge and understanding of the need for engineers, and spotlighting possible careers. Specific 2016 Engineers Week activities include: in-school presentations by leading Silicon Valley engineers, field trips to Silicon Valley’s leading technology companies, and innovative classroom projects like Future City in which students construct the city of the future.
Engineers Week runs from February 21-27, 2016. Founded by the National Society of Professional engineers, the event was created to celebrate how engineers make a difference in our world, increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, and to bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents. More information can be found at www.discovere.org.
About Stratford School
Established in 1999, Stratford School is a leading independent private school founded on the belief that education is a significant influence in the life of a child. Stratford offers an accelerated curriculum from preschool through eighth grade with an emphasis in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) that incorporates music, physical education, foreign language, and social skills development. Stratford’s goal is to prepare and mentor students for admission to competitive high schools and colleges. All students are provided the necessary tools to excel, and are encouraged to participate actively in leadership, community service, and extracurricular activities. Visit www.stratfordschools.com for more information.