A project based STEM class is fostering problem solving, team work, and collaboration among middle school students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Project Based STEM ClassLegos are an important tool for the class at West Prairie Middle School, as they use them hands on to try out engineering designs to solve a problem.

“It’s totally project-based,” explained Principal Caitlin Watson, “so a lot of times they are given a problem, and the kids need to work through the engineering design process to come up with a solution to that problem, and then present their findings at the end.”

STEM teacher Alexandra Markley was a student teacher at the middle school last year.  She has a degree in elementary education and did not expect to be teaching a STEM class so quickly.

“That was my first experience with middle school, and until then I just assumed I would be elementary,” she said of her student teaching. “It never occurred to me that I would love junior high age as much as I do.”

The engineering design process was the focus of the first few days of her STEM class.  That was when students learned that it is OK to make mistakes, a key component of project based learning.

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