Bringing STEM to life in Guilford County Schools
Submitted by Tommy Cornelis on November 1, 2012
Last month, students in North Carolina’s third largest school district – Guilford County Schools – and its Bluford STEM Academy joined more than 300 families to celebrate its inaugural STEMology event. During the evening’s festivities, parents worked alongside their children on experiments that included everything from popcorn and heat conduction to Lego robotics. The evening allowed parents and guests to see firsthand how Bluford integrates STEM into daily instruction.
For example, Common Core Standards require our kindergarten students to use informational text – non-fiction that does not utilize characters with the primary purpose of informing the reader about the natural or social world – and allows students to draw parallels between classroom learning and the real world. This type of language boosts student vocabulary and was an integral part of STEMology for our younger kids.
Throughout the night, students were also engaged in engineering projects like creating bridges from unusual materials in which they tested the strength of the structure using pennies and lima beans. Parents and teachers were in awe of how students facilitated instruction and the enthusiasm they showed during the presentation of their bridge designs. It was very exciting to see children in grades K-5 speak eloquently and confidentially about their STEM projects.
STEMology included tours by our Bluford student STEMologists on projects like “tasting dry ice” where students and teachers revealed together how science makes up huge parts of our daily lives. In fact, students showed how simple tasks or complex problems could use science to come up with a solution. It was a great sampling of what to expect in the future from this group of students in high school and beyond.
Computer technology was also part of STEMology where parents were taught by their children and teachers to come up with answers to tech problems. By listening and participating in hand-on activities, parents got a glimpse at what their budding young scientists and computer programmers do every day at Bluford.
As the Magnet Coordinator/Science Specialist at Bluford STEM Academy, I am overwhelmed with joy to see our STEM program kicking off with such high expectations. It has been a great experience over the past nine years at Bluford to see it change from a communications magnet to a STEM academy. Here at Bluford we are always coming up with creative and new ideas to aid our students in STEM. As the world changes with technology and new ways of thinking, Bluford is changing along with it. We’re all about preparing our students with new 21st century learning skills and tools as they prepare to lead the world.
For more information on the Bluford STEM Academy, contact Laurie Hogan in Guilford County Schools District Relations at 336-370-8307.