District-Wide STEM Initiative

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Project Overview

The Newburyport Education Foundation is raising funds to create an interactive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Lab for students at the Bresnahan Elementary School along with increasing accessibility to STEM at the Molin, Nock and the High School. The goal is to build an environment that allows for inquiry and project based, hands-on learning around STEM topics — and that cultivates creative and flexible “thinkers and doers.”

Phase One of the project will reconfigure a room in the Bresnahan Elementary School into the Strem STEM Lab, a flexible lab space with multiple learning modules for different grades and STEM themes. In this learning hub, modules will support experimentation and labs, technology and robotics, engineering “maker” centers for building and design, and more.

Rationale

The Newburyport Public Schools are in the process of changing instruction in grades K–8 to meet the new Science Technology/Engineering Learning Standards recently adopted by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The new standards mandate that STEM topics be integrated into the everyday elementary curriculum. Each grade will focus on a STEM theme: Discovery (Kindergarten), Observation (Grade 1), Investigation (Grade 2), and Problem Solving (Grade 3). Learning experiences will be built around these overarching themes and integrated with other topics to show the interconnected nature of and applications of STEM concepts and skills.

Phase One Goals

The Strem STEM Lab will allow students to actively learn through building, computer programming, experimentation, and collaboration. The goal is for students to develop a perception of themselves as scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. To that end, it is essential to encourage students to take risks, make mistakes, and refine their thinking. Lab components will provide an arena for such creative inquiry.

Completing the Strem STEM Lab will benefit all students, grades 1-3 (over 500 students) on a daily basis. Specifically, it will:

  • Create a flexible lab space that reduces wasted time in setup and transition between activities.
  • Integrate science, technology, engineering, and math concepts via shared projects using a variety of tools, including current computer technology and peripherals.
  • Enable inquiry-based learning in all domains of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
  • Expand differentiated instruction and contemporary teaching strategies in STEM-related coursework.
  • Create a seamless flow from lower elementary school to upper elementary and middle school STEM experiences.