STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A commission authored and investigated Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a work which addressed U.S. competitiveness and pre-eminence in the area of science and technology.
To address the commission's four recommendations, a STEM initiative was created in Maryland. As a result, the Carroll County Public School System is operating under a STEM Initiative grant issued by the Maryland State Department of Education. Additionally, STEM is an integral part of Maryland's Race to the Top application. As part of this process, lessons should allow for real life applications and problem-solving using integrated content.
In Carroll County, STEM education integrates the content, processes, skills, and language of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through authentic, problem-based curriculum experiences. As a result, all students are prepared to pursue STEM-related courses of study and careers in order to be contributing members of the 21st century global community.
Through cross-curricular content, structure, and implementation we will
- Increase student interest and participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
- Increase student knowledge and understanding about careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
- Increase student ability to apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts and skills in integrated and meaningful ways.
Through collaborative professional development activities, we will:
- Increase the growth among educators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to advance expertise in content and cross-curricular integration and implementation.
Current Projects: To enhance STEM offerings at the Elementary level each grade will have a unit that is structured around the Environmental Issue Investigation model. One of the key components is students taking action after they have investigated the issue.
- In kindergarten, students investigate living things, specifically the monarch butterfly. Students collect eggs and caterpillars from nurseries installed on their school grounds. A common action is to plant/maintain milkweed in their garden to help the monarch population. Why is this an issue?
- In grade three, students will investigate composting as a means of reusing in a unit titled "The Story of Stuff" (Under Construction)
- In grade four students investigate the impact of parking lots and paved areas on the environment. Students examine the role of the parking lot primarily in terms of water movement. Students will assist in the design and maintenance of a Rain Garden to assist in the absorption of water. Lessons will involve the concepts of area and perimeter, and use computer simulations to map the area and spacing for the native plants. Items collected from parking lot will be used as indicators of chemical, physical, and biological activity directly related to parking lot. .
- In grade five students investigate the the biodiversity of bird populations on their school grounds. Students take action to enhance their school grounds to meet needs of birds in relations ships to habitiat, food, and/or water. The title of the unit is "Unless" as their is a literary connection the book "The Lorax" by Dr. Suess.
To enhance STEM offerings at the Elementary grades one through four have a STEM unit that follow a problem based model and include engineering. Examples of these units are:
- Grade One "Best of Bugs" : After learning that a foreign plant will not flower because there are no insects to pollinate it, students become an engineer to help Marianna solve her problem. For the design challenge students design and improve hand pollinators to work with different model flowers.
- Grade Two "A Sticky Situation" : After learning that a rabbit is destroying Yi Min's garden students embark on a study of Earth Materials that could create a wall to protect the garden. Students design a mortar and wall structure and then create tests to improve their design and compare the strength of their structures
- Grade Three "A Work in Process" : In the classroom, students tackle the challenge of creating the way to improve an “okay” play dough recipe. On the way, they explore the properties of a good dough and compare their own sample to it. Then they improve a standard process for mixing the ingredients--to ensure that it creates a just-right dough. Along they way, they discover that the process really can make the difference between a goopy blob and super sculpting medium.
- Grade Four "An Alrming Idea" : Students embark the study of electrical circuits that can solve problems. Stedents then design, create, and improve their own alarm circuits and switches to remind them when it is time to do an important chore.
- Grade Five "Solid as a Rock" A pilot unit has been selected that relates the properties of rocks and minerals to replicate an artifact.
- The American chestnut tree was once a dominant and important species in the eastern United States. The tree was decimated by a blight caused by fungus in the early 1900's. Our science curriculum will have the chestnut's story and restoration efforts embedded within its middle school, biology, and science research curriculum. Content topics of hybridization, DNA genetics, hypovirulence, and gel electrophoresis will be topics that are covered with a consistent commitment to how it relates to creating blight resistant trees. Advanced labs and techniques will accompany field observations regarding actual trees grown at Hashawa Nature Center and on school sites.
- In grade 8, using portable data acquisition devices, students will monitor and evaluate water quality of a Chesapeake Bay tributary over a period of time. Students will investigate turbidity, pH, temperature, and various nutrient levels. Students will use the data collected to create a video for a public service announcement to recommend ways to improve the water quality in the watershed.