In an article entitled Preparing Students for STEM Careers, Angela Traurig and Rich Feller speak to the fact that the demand for skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, and math is closely linked to global competitiveness. According to the National Science Foundation, ”In the 21st Century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”
Technology is pervasive in almost every aspect of our daily lives. It is my belief that by increasing the amount of STEM learning opportunities here at St. Mark, our students will be provided with even stronger foundations for developing critical skills naturally. Our children will be better able to answer complex questions, investigate global issues, solve real world problems, and meet real world challenges while engaging in meaningful, purposeful, and relevant hands-on, inquiry-based, project-based learning experiences.
So in an effort to help students develop a strong interest in STEM, we have put several programs into place. We want to inspire our students at a young age to think outside the box creatively through innovation. We encourage them to dream, envision, and then make it happen! As Miss Hardin, our Junior High science teacher, told me this past month, her most enjoyable lessons are the ones where she supplies the students with the objective, provides them with materials, and challenges them to find a solution.
One of our newest adventures is our Entrepreneur Club, currently available to students in the 8th Grade. One project they have been working on is their own version of a “Shark Tank” competition called Lion’s Den EdVenture. The purpose of this program is to foster respect for an interest in entrepreneurship, provide an outlet to students interested in business, help students develop communication and critical thinking skills, and create links between successful community leaders and our school. Our students are spending enrichment time working on Shark Tank Projects and learning technological skills necessary to design and produce all features behind their business plans. Students were instructed to consider these key points: Business Name, Mission, Key Customers, Value Brought to Market, Key Resources, Revenue Streams, Expenses, Start Up Funds, Ways to Advertise, Price, and Anticipated Challenges. Each student will “pitch” his/her project to a panel of professionals, who will evaluate it. The overall winner will move on to a larger competition at St. Ignatius High School in late April. To get the students excited in this endeavor, Mr. Joe Pulizzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute (and more importantly one of our parents), spoke to our students about his experiences in entrepreneurship. I am very excited to see our students in action! If you are interested in assisting us with this endeavor as an innovative business entrepreneur, please contact the school office.
In addition, all of our students have been exposed to 3-D printing, 3-D printing pens creating real objects like bicycles, park benches, helicopters, and animals, just to name a few. Additionally, our students are knowledgeable in graphic design, using graphic tablets to create their own logos, coding, and many other STEM related opportunities, which will impact their lives as life-long learners. It will be interesting to see where these endeavors take us as a school community over the years. This is a very exciting time for all of us!