Even for Kindergarteners, an elementary school STEM program encourages budding engineers through hands on activities and creative thinking.
“A fortress!” exclaimed one girl, dressed head to toe in pink.
Other kindergartners, all seated in front of desktop PCs, followed with more answers: A pirate ship. A book. The Statue of Liberty.
Shortly after, students used wooden blocks to build the desired shapes on the floor before using an application called “Blokify” to recreate the models on an iPad. Poujade said he would make the winning model on the 3-D printer in the front of the room.
For Poujade, it was exactly the kind of creative thinking he encourages every day in Forest Park Elementary’s technology class.
As politicians and businesses push for more students to become involved with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), classes like Poujade’s help expose students to such careers early in life. Students don’t just learn about PowerPoint and Word. They delve into writing code and putting “inventor kits” to use.
Poujade says the class, which teaches students to be makers more than consumers of technology, helps build critical thinking skills that are essential in the workplace.
“Not everyone is going to become an engineer, but they’ll at least know how to think like one and problem solve,” he said.
Teaching technology has long been less common on the elementary school level than the middle and high schools.
“A lot of times we leave the elementary kids alone when it comes to this kind of stuff because it’s either too expensive or inaccessible,” said Poujade, who arrived to the school two years ago.
But principal Tanya Ghattas wanted to make technology a major part of the school’s curriculum. Prioritizing district money and parent fundraisers helped update the school’s technology. At Forest Park, there are about 125 computers housed in a lab and on two mobile carts of laptops.