Sorting out technology problems in their classroom and helping younger students with projects is how a fifth grade tech team helps teachers and students at Aberdeen Primary and Robbins Elementary Schools.

The students are using creativity in new ways this year, in the STEM labs at school under supervision of teachers whose specialty is showing students how to solve complex problems.

The students in the primary school spend 45 minutes a week in STEM class, along with other electives such as PE, music, and art.  At Robbins Elementary, students have a STEM class every other week.

Since there is no separate funding for those teachers, the schools now must hire enough teachers for the usual elective classes, and finding qualified candidates is a challenge.

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The principals of Aberdeen and Robbins, Molly Capps and Kim Bullard, decided to solve the problem with some creativity themselves.  The Title I funding that the schools receive can be spent on programs that are up to the discretion of each principal and staff.

“When I first came to Aberdeen Primary School, we were trying to teach children how to use an iPad, and we were worried to death they were going to break them, because we didn’t have that many,” Capps said. “Now we’re beyond that, and sometimes we have to sit back and reflect on how far we’ve come.”

“Since it’s elementary, a lot of our engineering lessons are based on popular picture books or other picture books that pose challenges for the characters,” said Robbins STEM teacher Kim Collazo.

The fifth grade “Tech Team” at Robbins helps the preschoolers and kindergarten students, as well as solving regular technology problems in their own classes.

“It’s a great way for them to become leaders,” said Collazo. “If a teacher’s having a problem, they know they can call on some of the Tech Team members. They’re the experts in the building for sure, and they’re very proud of that role.”

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