November 11, 2019

East Alexander aims to become STEAM school

ALL ABOARD FOR S.T.E.A.M. — Above, East Alexander Middle School Assistant Principal Amy Daigle (far left) and Principal Dr. Angela Charles greet visitors to the school’s STEAM Night, held September 5, 2019. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.

East Alexander Middle School’s Dr. Angela Charles, Principal, and Mrs. Daigle, Assistant Principal, are excited to announce the kickoff of their school’s focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).

The initiative was commemorated with a STEAM Night on Thursday, September 5, 2019, in which students and parents could visit various STEAM displays and participate in related, hands-on activities.

“It is no anomaly that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM, or STEAM with Art) initiatives are on the rise. Even under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) there are provisions to improve STEM teaching and learning through local innovation and investments. Such things are supported within the STEM 2026 vision of The United States Department of Education,” said Dr. Charles.

“Furthermore, school administrators have a worthy aspiration to stimulate insights and new practices that are necessary to serve diverse learners, and STEM education is a research-based avenue for doing so. Leaders who understand how the natural world works will be imperative for the reform of primary and secondary education,” the principal noted.

“STEAM” NIGHT DRAWS A CROWD — East Alexander Middle School students took part in STEAM Night, held September 5, 2019. Above, one of the several activities available was Battle Bots, based on Bluetooth-controlled, motorized Sphero balls, which students steered with laptop computers.

East Alexander Middle is working through the lens of STEAM education which empowers teachers and students to utilize project-based learning that crosses all five disciplines and fosters an inclusive, hands-on learning environment where all students are able to engage and contribute.

“We are working hard with a new innovative schedule which offers a project time for our students to make connections between the core content they receive in class and the real-world applications of that content. Moreover, the new schedule provides opportunities for us to serve the social/emotional learning of students through what is called Falcon Time,” said Daigle.

Additionally, East is working to become recognized as an official STEAM school by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This recognition is a three-year process where students will be exposed to the creative process and authentic, real-world problem solving with meaningful collaboration for students. This type of learning environment will provide a unique outlook on problem-solving while also getting the hands-on learning opportunities they desire. This approach can also lead to more encouragement for underrepresented populations to do exploration into the STEM fields and it shows a different way for them to value the arts as well,” said Dr. Charles.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher Jeff Fairchild explained that EAMS offers an Exploring Careers class, now in its second year. Ten career pathways are available to learn, with three taught per semester in areas like robotics, culinary arts, emergency medicine, home maintenance, digital manufacturing, and more. Fairchild said the class is very popular and children enjoy it.

“Everything in the class relates to CTE classes offered at Alexander Central High School,” he added.

DIGITAL MANUFACTURING — Above, East Alexander CTE teacher Jeff Fairchild (right) speaks with a student and parent about 3-D printing and digital manufacturing during the East Alexander Middle School STEAM Night on Sept. 5, 2019.


A Whole New World

East Alexander teacher Amber Treadway explained to The Times that the students will be involved in a project known as A Whole New World. Students will work in teams and will be tasked with imagining a different world, such as one in which time travel is real, or in which a natural disaster has disrupted civilization. Each facet of STEAM will be incorporated into the project. Students will create a narrative for their world, make models, use math for calculating things in their world, design art, and more. Dedicated project time will be alloted, 30 minutes per school day. This will culminate with a big STEAM Project Night in January 2020.

The New World project will help build communication skills, as well as STEAM skills.

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