After five years of hard work, it was party time at M. Agnes Jones Elementary School on Tuesday as the school celebrated becoming the first Atlanta Public School to earn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) certification.
The school held a pep rally featuring Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen and State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods. Prior to the rally, Dr. Carstarphen and Woods were taken on a tour of the school’s urban farm where students are growing lettuce, spinach, carrots, collards and basil. Students are also caring for the farm’s two chickens – Coco Puff and Valentine.
M.A. Jones Principal Margul Woolfolk said the five-year journey to become a certified STEM school was well worth it. Instead of teaching science, technology, engineering and math in isolation, the STEM schools feature an integrated curriculum driven by problem solving, discovery, exploratory project/problem-based learning and student-centered development of ideas and solutions. It helps prepare students for success in the 21st century workforce.
“I wanted this to be sustainable for the long term, and so it took some time for all of our teachers to be certified in STEM. Also, being a charter system gave us autonomy with our funds so that we could adequately support STEM,” Woolfolk said. “It’s having an impact on our students and the community.”
Curious second and third graders at Burgess-Peterson Academy got their first hands-on experience with the school’s new STE(A)M truck this week. Students were able to touch and play with items on the mobile learning facility which is dedicated to the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math experience.
The truck serves as a mobile innovation lab and allows students to tackle problems using real tools and modern technology under the guidance of community experts. Children and local artists worked together to tinker, design and build solutions in a fun, educational environment. The students’ first challenge was to create an object made of paper using at least three folds that could hold pennies. The student whose design held the most pennies won.
Principal Robin Robbins is excited that students have the opportunity to collaborate at this level. “I am hopeful that my students will take advantage of authentic learning by engaging in projects which use critical thinking and problem-solving while sparking students’ interest in STEAM related careers,” said Ms. Robbins.
Principal Robbins applauds the non-traditional approach, “Globally students must begin to learn how to collaborate on real world issues with teams. The experience will also hopefully launch our students into careers and educational opportunities where minorities have been underrepresented. Having the STEAM truck here for 20 consecutive days will allow my students the opportunity to execute a plan from beginning to end”.
The truck will be parked at Burgess-Peterson until the end of the school year, a great way to make a lasting impression on these inspiring young minds!