STEM has been launched!

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Photos provided by the authors

Third-graders create squirrel proof bird feeders.

This year the Suffield Public Schools has launched a brand-new STEM program for students in grades K-5, at both Spaulding Elementary School and McAlister Intermediate School. Within both buildings each class is provided with opportunities to visit the STEM lab.

Mrs. Jessica Marzi, formerly the STEM coach at Spaulding Elementary School and now the STEM teacher, works with every class to introduce our youngest students to science, technology, and engineering through hands-on experiences. Miss Brooke Schomburg, who previously taught third and fourth grade at McAlister, teaches the STEM program for students in grades three to five. Mrs. Marzi and Miss Schomburg work collaboratively to continue to grow the STEM program. Students at Spaulding and McAlister attend STEM class as one of their special rotations throughout the year. Our STEM program is designed to stretch our brains, develop perseverance and creative thinking.

Miss Schomburg helps third-grader Gavin Atkins build a Lego WeDo Robot.

Over the course of the year, and throughout the K-5 STEM program, the students engage in learning activities that provide opportunities to apply the engineering and design process, coding and computer science, as well as connections to their current science units. This year Spaulding and McAlister students have worked on developing their knowledge of engineering and technology. Students have learned how to code with loops, conditionals, variables and proper sequencing using the coding language Blockly. Blockly is the developmentally appropriate way of teaching students how to code. Learning how to code with Blockly gives students a firm foundation that will support their learning in any coding language. At Spaulding, students are currently using the engineering and design process to solve problems within rich literature. At McAlister students are making connections to natural science topics within their curriculum and using the engineering and design process to create models to show their understanding.

Spaulding students develop their coding skills.

The district will continue to grow the K-5 STEM program. As the program grows, focus areas will include robotics, computer science and engineering and will ensure diversity and inclusivity within the curriculum. We are excited to continue this journey for our youngest learners to spark their curiosity and look forward to growing these programs. Our hope is to engage the community into our STEM program as we continue to enhance it. Want to support us in our magnificent journey? Please contact Jessica Marzi (jmarzi@suffield.org) at Spaulding and Brooke Schomburg (bschomburg@suffield.org) at McAlister.

First-grader Lily Broder works to see how high she can build a tower.

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