How Hands-On Experiences Change How Students Learn STEM

In a world full of educators, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs stressing the need for STEM education, one of the best quotes on how to present science, technology, engineering, and math to kids comes not from a professional— but rather, a fifth grader in Arizona.

Oscar Landa attends Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff, AZ. Killip Elementary is halfway through a pilot program that aims to turn the school into a fully functioning STEM academy by 2016. Rather than teaching science and math as separate subjects, teachers at Killip now integrate STEM by using science-related texts in their reading lessons, allowing students to use iPads to research and compose presentations on the topics they are studying, taking field trips to STEM-related businesses and using the school garden as an extension of the classroom. Has it been successful?

“It’s more fun,” Landa said. “I like books, but it gets boring when you just sit there for a long time. When you do STEM, you can experience things with your hands and make stuff.”

Principal Joseph Gutierrez said he will measure the success of the STEM pilot program through testing as well as qualitative data, such as how many Killip students go on to STEM magnet programs in middle school. But Oscar Landa’s quote really says it all. When students can learn how to apply what they are learning in a hands on setting, it becomes fun! STEM educators across the country can take a note from Killip Elementary when it comes to teaching STEM.

Categories: Smartforce

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