STEAM and Innovation Classes to Launch in Third and Fourth Grades
Bloomfield Hills Schools third and fourth grade students found a new class on their specials schedule for the 2022-2023 school year: STEAM and Innovation! STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, is being launched in these grades at all BHS elementary schools. STEAM and Innovation teachers, Samantha Aurrichio (Eastover, East Hills, Lone Pine, Way, and West Hills) and Annette Collins (Conant) are working to integrate philosophies and methodologies which go beyond the traditional coding and robotics usually associated with STEAM programs.
Lauren Dempsey, BHS Technology Integration Specialist, believes that introducing the design thinking mindset at the elementary level will prepare students for high-level courses. The transition to middle school STEAM will come easier for students as they have been practicing this mindset for a few years.
STEAM and Innovation encompasses a wide variety of topics and processes, but one focus is maker-centered learning. “During maker-centered learning, students are building and crafting projects around different things, taking a concept and building a conceptual model for it, and using different kinds of materials,” stated Carey Crocker, District STEAM Coordinator. Crocker noted that the materials do not have to be expensive, like a 3-D printer, but can be everyday objects that one can find around the house. “We are all makers and can all be makers,” emphasized Crocker.
The STEAM and Innovation program also strives to produce inquiry, resourcefulness, global learning, adaptability, and problem-solving which can assist in other aspects of life. The program isn't meant to simply teach robotics, but to provide the knowledge and skills to apply to other areas. Jessica Stage, BHS Technology Integration Specialist, said “We want these mindsets and dispositions in students where they feel agency and control. The goal is not ‘I’m gonna grow up and do robots,’ it's ‘I’m going to learn about robots and coding because I want to help create sustainable water systems’.” The programming ultimately creates opportunities for our elementary students to consider the ways that they can expand their perspectives and work as change agents within their own schools. The experiences within the STEAM and Innovation classroom tie directly to the BHS Portrait of a Learner as well as concepts and skills taught within the grade level. BHS looks forward to watching this program expand and evolve as additional elementary grade levels are added in the future.