Students and teachers have discovered after one year how a STEM program transforms middle school into an exciting learning venture that partners with surrounding industries.
According to Jason Holt, principal of Jackson Middle School in Jackson, South Carolina, STEM has transformed his school to a place where parents and the community are involved and students want to be challenged.
“We did surveys at the end of the sixth-grade pilot program last year, and the kids unanimously said they wanted more STEM,” Holt said. “Students – no matter the level of their achievement – responded that they wanted to be pushed harder and they liked being held to a higher standard.”
Holt also pointed out that STEM projects can seem like fun, the change is deeper than just enjoying interesting projects.
“It’s not just fun activities,” he said. “Some people will see us building rockets or replicas of roller coasters, but what we’re doing is teaching students math and geometry within that project rigorously. We’re teaching them to work as a team.”
One of the benefits has been a decline in discipline problems in the sixth grade. “Instead of focusing on a bunch of rules, we’ve changed the language,” Holt said. “Instead of reminding students to bring their pencils, we tell them they have to be prepared as they will when they’re in college or the workplace.”