A new elementary STEM school is first of its kind, as it is a primary years program International Baccalaureate school, a Title I school and a STEM school.
The new Central Park Elementary School in Midland, Michigan, features an outdoor planetarium, a zip line, and maker spaces. It opened this fall with over 800 students.
“It’s also the only one we know of that has been built from the ground up, where our space is designed specifically for the 21st century STEM and learning,” said co-principal Shannon Blasy.
According to Blasy, Central Park School is the result of two years planning, and the merge of two schools, Carpenter Elementary and Eastlawn Elementary. Both those schools closed, partly due to the high cost of repairs. Building a new elementary STEM school was more cost efficient.
“We designed our building specifically around teaching students how to problem solve, how to interact with one another and how to communicate and collaborate with one another,” Blasy said.
The chairs are brightly colored, and furnishings enable a flexible environment which encourages STEM learning. Allowing students to rearrange seating while working in groups is important for building teamwork. Some features that are normally closed off in most schools will be open for the students to observe. The boiler room will be exposed and observable through a window.
The curriculum is from Project Lead The Way, and is expected to be implemented in every school in the district next year.