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HSSP Pilot Site: Alhambra Elementary School District
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Our Story Begins...

The Alhambra Elementary Schools District is a medium size high-needs K-8 district in the Phoenix area. Their proposal focuses on the creation of a STEM course to be offered to all 7-8th grade students at two of their middle Schools of which 97% live below the poverty line. The intent is to replicate the course beyond the 770 directly involved in the grant to all middle school students throughout the district. Through this program they will be able to expose all of their middle school students to a variety of STEM opportunities and skills in an attempt to broaden both their academic skills and their career prospects.

We have a STEM showcase every year where the community comes in and has a chance to experience the labs. Business partners come in and are just amazed by what the students are doing, the conversations they're having, the items that they're working with and the possible careers that the lab is leading them to."
- Dr. Carter Davidson, Director of STEM Research and Development, Alhambra Elementary School District

In the End...

The Alhambra Elementary School District (AESD) is proud to have been one of the seven sites chosen to be a part of the Helios STEM School Pilot (HSSP). Just over three years ago when applying for the grant, we were already a few years into our own STEM initiative. AESD had chosen a science curriculum for grades K-8 and had dedicated personnel in place: district level science coaches, a Director of STEM, and those responsible for materials management. In addition, we had numerous and effective afterschool STEM clubs, including Engineering is Elementary, Design Squad, and MESA.

Still, when we looked at the STEM Immersion Guide, we knew there was room for growth. In order to move from the Exploratory stage to Introductory and eventually, Partial Immersion, we would need more of a focus on integrating STEM into our daily curriculum, and incorporating STEM concepts across as many content areas as possible. The HSSP grant gave us the resources (financial, intellectual, and technical) to do just that.

AESD’s grant was used primarily to build STEM engineering labs using Paxton Patterson Action Labs. These labs were aimed at helping our junior high students gain exposure to new and relevant content, such as Laser Technology, Alternative Energy, and Robotics. The labs also give students a chance to build connections to existing curriculum, and explore the idea of a career in the STEM fields.

As STEM education capacity was built in our teachers and administrators, we moved from the Exploratory model to Introductory. Along the way we started to find additional ways to incorporate STEM into our existing curriculum. AESD created engineering activities aimed at all grade levels, integrated science, technology, and ELA using the College and Career Readiness Standards to produce multiple Technology Enhanced Lessons for every grade level, and engineered multiple new STEM Clubs including Vex Robotics, LEGO League, and Coding.

The results have been staggering. Every year AESD has over 400 junior high students experience our STEM engineering labs, more than 700 students participate in greater than 40 afterschool STEM Clubs, and every single one of our 13,458 students participate in engineering activities as part of their regular science curriculum. AESD has built strong relationships with business and community partners such as Intel, Vertech, Grand Canyon University (GCU), Arizona State University, University of Arizona, the Burton Barr Public Library, and Quantum Energy and Sustainable Solar Technology (QESST). In addition, AESD is proud to be the recipient of numerous STEM related grants from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bosch, Century Link and AzTEA, DonorsChoose, and GCU.

Our students have earned awards through their participation in our MESA Clubs, including first place in the 2014 National Championship Award for Design Efficiency and three separate awards at the 2015 Nationals. The Connect 2 STEM Award recognized AESDs commitment to STEM education and our partnership with Intel, and AESD is proud to say that our district supplies over 30% of the acceptance letters into Phoenix Union’s Bioscience High School. AESD is grateful for the opportunity that Helios Education Foundation and the Science Foundation of Arizona have provided for our students. Through continued hard work, commitment of resources, and a vision for children’s future, AESD looks forward to sustaining our reputation as a leader in STEM education.

"The inquiry process is critical to any understanding of science or engineering. Generating questions, gathering data, analyzing data, communicating results – all of these things are part of the STEM labs."
- Mark Laliberte, District Academic Coach, Alhambra Elementary School District

Resources Created

STEM Lessons/Units

Unit/Lesson Name Grade-Level Description Link
7th Grade Engineering Activity Grade 7 Build Lunar Rovers download (.zip)
8th Grade ELA Technology Lesson Grade 8 Engineering Technology Lessons download (.notebook)

"When we can give our students a strong STEM base here in Alhambra – we get them excited to take STEM classes in high school – then we really are preparing our students for the future.”
- Andrew Feight, Science Teacher, Alhambra Elementary School District

Visit more Sites... To learn more about the HSSP sites, click on the images below.

  • Altar Valley ESD

  • Alhambra ESD

  • Bagdad USD

  • Congress ESD

  • Salt River Elementary School

  • W.F. Killip Elementary School

  • Yuma ESD

  • The HELIOS STEM Schools Journey

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