W.F. Killip Elementary School is a heavily high needs elementary school in the Flagstaff area. Through this program they intend to create a STEM Academy in their school that will provide students the opportunity to participate in embedded STEM activities in all areas. Through extensive professional development in STEM, Common Core, and Next Generation Science Standards along with ongoing support and resources, teachers will be given the ability to refine their teaching to fully integrate these high level skills throughout their day. If successful this school will serve as a model for other schools in the district.
"No longer is it good enough for students to sit in desks and rows absorbing information… Knowledge is instantaneously accessible for today’s children. What we must do as educators, is provide kids with opportunities to APPLY that knowledge. We must do it in ways that reflect the real world and in ways that are personally or locally relevant to our student’s lives." - Ted Komada STEM Coordinator, Killip Elementary
In the End...
Over the past three years Killip’s teachers have collaborated with community partners and instructional leaders to develop over 20 STEM based units of instruction. The instruction of our Reading, Writing, Math, Science and Social Studies standards are all integrated under one STEM based topic.
Over the course of the project we have learned how to frame the instruction of academic content in terms of a problem our students must solve. This requires not just the learning of academic content and skills but that coveted APPLICATION of new knowledge and information.
We have begun to find and frame these STEM based units within the context of problems that are personally or locally relevant to the lives of our students and their families. It is through this type of engagement and integration that we have found the balance between accountability to standardized testing and those too often, ‘cliche’ benefits of STEM education.
Where do we go from here?
Given time, continued support from the business and political sectors, STEM education models such as those developed through this Helios STEM School Pilot project, may prove to be the foundation for the type of reform that Arizona’s education system needs.
At Killip we are fiercely proud of our work and accomplishments in STEM, yet humbled by the work we still have ahead of us. We must incorporate the explicit instruction of those again cliche, "21st Century skills”. Our students must be able to learn and apply knowledge in settings that allow them to communicate and collaborate as they brainstorm, develop and refine solutions to problems.
This is the work we will undertake during the next two years as we continue to push the realm of innovation in education.
Aquaponic Greenwall in the STEM Lab at Killip Elementary