Keystone Oaks Approves STEAM Course for Elementary Students
Beginning with the 2016-2017 academic year, Keystone Oaks students in kindergarten through fifth grade will participate in a weekly STEAM course, giving them the opportunity to develop the creative and critical thinking skills necessary for college and career success.
At their Business/Legislative meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, the Keystone Oaks Board of School Directors approved the STEAM course as one of five “specials” classes that elementary students will have during a six-day rotation. The other classes are art, library, music, and physical education, which students will have twice during the rotation.
“This class will allow students to develop their curiosity, creativity, communication and collaboration skills and ability to analyze information,” said Shannon Varley, Ed.D., Director of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment & Staff Development. “As educators, we continually hear that today’s graduates are lacking these skills. As Keystone Oaks evaluates all areas of its curriculum to integrate the concepts of STEAM, this is one way that we can begin to set our youngest students up for success in the real world.”
Children’s literature will provide the context and motivation for various design challenges. The curriculum is still being developed, but students will likely find themselves repurposing objects and recycled materials, coding, and building with Legos and other materials – among a variety of other activities that will encourage students to experiment with different concepts and ideas in a non-threatening, playful environment.
This year, Keystone Oaks’ administrators and staff members participated in a number of professional development conferences and site visits at local school districts to gather ideas and best practices for elementary school STEAM programs. The District has been working with the Arts Education Collaborative to develop the class.
“We are very excited about this program because this is the right thing to do for our students,” said Superintendent William Stropkaj, Ed.D. “This class is just a first step in helping students develop the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century.”