The MREC STEM program, as part of the Succeed 2020 initiative, is preparing students for advanced and rigorous coursework in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the utilization of the Pearson STEM curriculum. The overarching goal of the STEM program is to prepare and inspire students to develop a strong foundation in the STEM subjects to meet the challenges of today's workforce and college readiness, while the purpose of the MREC STEM program is to bring awareness of STEM education into South Central North Dakota through the integration of project-based hands-on learning for students. Students will not only learn new information, but be able to apply their new learning and experiences into real-world projects or activities that will correlate with future career ideas and opportunities. The Pearson curriculum is broken down into grade bands that address the unique needs of secondary students targeted in Succeed 2020.
The key to the MREC STEM program is the guidance and materials provided that allow teachers to integrate STEM into their existing curriculum. What does this mean? It means we are not adding to teacher's already hectic workload, but rather may reduce teacher workloads through the encouragement of teacher collaborations from multiple core disciplines to enhance student understanding and relevance of key subject matter. In addition to the curriculum and resources being provided, the MREC STEM program provides ongoing support and collaboration from MREC staff and other STEM stakeholders, striving to bring the most real-world experience possible into a traditional classroom setting.
2012-2013 Current Reality:
The MREC STEM program was implemented into four school districts within the MREC (Beulah, Center, Hazen, and Napoleon) serving approximately 220 middle school students and five teachers throughout the year. We provided ongoing support for teachers striving to infuse the materials into their current curriculum, as well as guidance on other STEM possibilities. Comments from teachers and students were overwhelmingly positive as the programming renewed excitement and engagement from the students and removed some of traditional teaching style barriers by allowing teachers to facilitate the learning. Additionally, due to communications efforts within the programming, Beulah Middle School also became involved with the You’re Hired program offered through the North Dakota State College of Science, involving all their middle school students and teachers.
Sharing the STEM Coordinator position with Bismarck Public Schools has also helped to provide other professional development opportunities for teachers and/or events for students throughout the MREC to attend with regard to STEM/CTE programming such as the Aviation Expo, Rosie’s Girls for At-Risk Women training opportunity, SPARKFUN, and CTE Professional Development Conference.
2013-2014 Future Plans:
The four returning schools who began the program during the 2012-2013 school year will continue to receive the same Pearson materials and supports, but will also have the ability to be trained and utilize new robotics materials the MREC received through a YouthTouch Grant from Goldenrod.
The current programming with the Pearson materials will be expanded into up to six more middle schools for the 2013-2014 school year, with the same training and ongoing support all the program schools currently receive.
Additionally, the MREC is offering to schools throughout the MREC to target students who have interest and passion for robotics and hands-on learning through the formulation of First Tech Challenge extracurricular competition teams. The MREC will be purchasing up to 25 First Tech Challenge kits and memberships (memberships are necessary to compete) for interested member schools. To see more information on the First Tech Challenge, please watch the following promotional video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwkNU3xNmyk&feature=youtu.be
The MREC is striving to promote STEM pedagogy throughout our K-12 schools and have begun discussions on possible professional development opportunities for all teachers to learn how to implement the hands-on, kinesthetic based, critical thinking pedagogy approach STEM is known for. More information on these opportunities in the future!
If you have any questions or are interested in learning more about the MREC STEM opportunities, please contact MREC STEM Coordinator Paul Keidel at 701-323-4344 or email him at Paul_keidel@bismarckschools.org