Unit 5 STEM

December 11, 2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ STEM in Education

Elementary STEM

All elementary teachers have access to Defined STEM.  Most teachers complete at least one project-based unit with their students.  This year, the elementary teachers have been incorporating inquiry based science activities using Carolina Building Blocks of Science.  These activities incorporate science and engineering practices as well as cross-cutting concepts.  A district committee is currently working to develop a district framework for science instruction that will be based on science storylines.  Each storyline will have a driving question that will guide the student inquiry and result in an end of unit problem based activity.  There are preliminary plans to host a district STEM day for 4th or 5th graders during the 2018-19 school year, and we are looking for community partners to support these efforts.

Middle School STEM

All middle schools are collaborating with State Farm to plan a STEMPOSIUM Student Event.  This event will consist of a day filled with STEM activities for all 8th graders.  There will be a project or task associated with each of the areas of STEM.   The students will rotate through this stations and work collaboratively to solve the challenges they are posed with.  Unit 5 staff will be facilitating and supporting the students alongside State Farm volunteers.  

A new Project Lead the Way course was offered to 8th graders this year – Computer Science App Creators.  While students may take Project Lead the Way technology courses in 6th and 7th grade, this is the first computer science course offered in the PLTW sequence.  Initial reports from students and teachers have been very positive around this course.

High School STEM

A new STEM page was debuted this year and can be accessed for district wide and community events:

Computer Science week – activities were set up for students to explore as well as participate in the Hour of Code program. There will be access to Spheroballs, Makey Makey, Ozobots, etc.

The Normal West Girls Who Code club will be sponsoring a K- 8 Coding Night on Fri Dec. 15 from 6-8PM.  The Normal West students will be leading the K – 8 students through interactive robotics, coding, and 3D Printing activities. There are almost 200 K-8 students signed up to participate in this event.

Our computer science coursework is continuing to expand as we will now have a PLTW based sequence starting in 8th grade and mvoing through junior year.  Courses include Computer Science Essentials, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science (JAVA).  Additionally, Unit 5 students will have the opportunity to earn a STEM Designation on their diploma.  Students that complete 8 semesters of STEM aligned coursework and enroll in the STEM Capstone Course, will earn this designation.  The STEM Capstone Course will run for the first time during the 2018-2019 school year.  Students will spend all of second semester working alongside local STEM professionals to solve a design problem/challenge.  If your business (or non-profit) is connected to STEM and you are interested in hearing more about this course and how senior students could support or assist you, please contact Director of Secondary Education, Laura O’Donnell (

Both high schools have/started STEM clubs this year and students are engaging in a variety of projects, preparing for competitions, helping to plan schoolwide STEM events, etc.