St. CroixCatholic School

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Academics » Why STEM?

Why STEM?

What is STEM? Why do we need it?
As a leading educator in the Stillwater, MN school district, St. Croix Catholic School (SCCS) recognizes its responsibility to address the growing need for quality STEM education. According to the U.S. Congress Join Economic Committee STEM Education Summary, April 2012, STEM workers (those with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills) will play a key role in the sustained growth of the U.S. economy, driving our nation’s innovation and competitiveness with new ideas and new industries. Yet, U.S. businesses frequently voice concerns over the availability of qualified STEM workers. The problem lies in that our country’s education system does not adequately prepare students for the rigor of college-level engineering courses, nor provide them with opportunities to translate STEM skills into inventive careers.
 
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) does both, delivering rigorous, reality-based education. PLTW’s middle school program, Gateway to Technology,  is  a particularly critical investment, as young teens are rapidly developing perceptions and making decisions that will determine their educational course into high school and beyond. Capturing middle school students' natural curiosity—and using PLTW’s real-world applications--will inspire them to continue on a STEM path. St. Croix Catholic is the first Catholic school in the state of Minnesota to assume Project Lead The Way. On average, 60-80% of SCCS 8th grade graduates move into Stillwater Public High School, which is implementing PLTW’s high school program. Our goal is seamless transition for these graduates, as well as for those who transition into rigorous Catholic high school programs.

St. Croix Catholic introduces students to the integrated ways of STEM early on in primary grades and advances the opportunities in the intermediate grades in preparation for the rigor of this PLTW middle school program. Several of our teachers have participated in STEM workshops, provided through Minnesota Independent Schools Forum (MISF). All of our teachers can access hands-on materials through the Science House, associated with the Science Museum of MN. Additionally, three of our teachers are certified Project Lead The Way instructors (having participated in a rigorous 2-week summer training).
Developing Spatial Intelligence
7th grade students have also been developing their spatial intelligence as they complete design lessons using SketchUp software in Computers class.  Each lesson is designed to teach students new tools and concepts while enhancing students’ ability to see objects geometrically and rotate and transform those images. In one assignment, students used their divergent thinking skills to create as many NET templates for a specific geometric shape as possible, and then printed and physically tested their proposed nets.Students also looked at architectural design and created a wide variety of buildings and applied the use of 3D design to extend their science study of Newton’s laws of motion. Students were asked to create a spinning top with the longest spinning time.  Their design was then reproduced on the 3D printer and put to the test with their peers and then design conclusions were made.