STEM at Olympia Schools

March 13, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ STEM in Education

STEM Education at Olympia High School

Olympia High School STEM teachers have been working to implement STEM education into their classrooms.  STEM teachers participated in a STEM partnership which included 80 hours of profession development in the summers of 2013 and 2014.  Part of the training included fully implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, Engineering Design projects and STEM curriculum.

Over the course of the last 5 years, teachers have work together to create STEM focused lesson, projects including cross-curricular lessons.  Lessons are focused on student centered problem solving and application of STEM standards. Teachers have seen a growth in student engagement and problem solving abilities.


STEM Activities at Olympia Middle School

Students in 6th grade science engage in multiple STEM activities through the school year.

Chemistry– Students explore various chemical reactions on multiple powders, then use recorded data to eliminate suspects in a mysterious art piece robbery crime lab.

Agriculture– Students are hired by R.A.I.N., an agricultural investigation firm, to explore the poor crop growth on a farmer’s property.  Students learn about environmental factors, and expose real crops to different factors to secure the possible cause of the crop growth. As a conclusion, students design an engineering model of how they would fix the farmer’s property.

Force and Motion– Students get real experience in this constructive unit.  Math and engineering skills are drawn upon by students to construct a marble run roller coaster.  Students must use their knowledge to control the speed and acceleration of their marble to bring it to smooth stop.

Electricity– Students further their understanding of electromagnetism in this unit.  Old electronics are deconstructed by students and reused to assemble a moving art piece.  Students not only learn about the flow of electrons, but also about uses of different types of circuits.  Students must submit blueprints of their designs along the way, drawing on the real-life practices that occur in the field.

Students in 7th grade have the opportunity to select STEM courses for Power Hour.  Students are involved in a variety of activities that include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  STEM 1 focuses on working with a partner or a small group to accomplish a given task. The focus of STEM 2 has students creating and construction projects.

Students in 7th grade science class create a solar oven during the energy unit in which they have to design the oven, utilize everyday supplies to build the oven, and then they use the oven outside, cooking Smores.

STEM is integrated into the 8th grade science curriculum, with emphasis placed on hands-on learning experiences and connecting science to the real world.  In addition to STEM opportunities in science class, 8th grade students may select from two different STEM Power Hour electives in which they participate in hands-on experiences following the engineering design process. Students engage in researching, designing, constructing, and testing models and solutions to real world problems. This practical application allows students deepen their understanding of STEM concepts, as well as develop STEM skills. The focus of STEM 1 is on projects related to flight and rocketry. STEM 2 projects are centered on energy and transportation.  8th grade project options include designing and constructing model rockets, egg crash cars, wind and steam powered boats, thermal energy devices, solar cars, maglev, and independent projects.

Faculty and Staff at Olympia Elementary Schools are busy designing new “hands on” Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities at the schools.  STEM is a type of curriculum, kindergarten through college, designed to help students be competitive in technology development by providing opportunities that will allow them to excel at high-tech jobs. A STEM program provides many benefits to students.

STEM allows students to work on real world problems and solutions in a safe learning environment.   STEM fosters “outside of the box” thinking by encouraging students to think critically, creatively and to be innovative.  As in the real world, teamwork, collaboration and communication is a major focus. The great Thomas Edison once said, “I didn’t fail.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” With that in mind, in STEM learning, failure is valued as a learning opportunity and mistakes are embraced, not penalized.