New STEM curriculum empowers Guttenberg elementary students to be creative

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Anna L. Klein School recently partnered with a private education company to bring STEM learning to Guttenberg students by providing hands-on kits that enables students to demonstrate their creative and analytical skills.

The youngsters showed off their creative on Thursday at the new annex that was completed for the 2017-2018 school year by dropping parachutes from the top of stairwells and building greenhouses that would allow them to grow vegetables and food on another planet in a solar system where oxygen is rare.

STEM teacher Jonathan Weber, whose students are in fifth through grade, walked around the classroom to witness his students’ work taking shape.

“Right now they’ve spent a couple of months learning about the solar system, the distance between the planets and the orbits of planets. The next thing they did was that they went out and did a simulation and they successfully launched a rocket from Earth to Mars, and once they got it to land on Mars they began to work on what it would take to establish a permanent colony on Mars,” Weber explained.

He continued, “If you look around, they’re starting to build their colonies to support life permanently away from Earth.”

A 6th grade STEM student named Michelle was immersed in strategizing the best way to construct a resilient greenhouse to withstand the Red Planet’s harsh elements.

She said she digs the new STEM curriculum because she uses her imagination to construct and it enhances her learning of other subjects.

“STEM has science, technology, engineering and math, all of these subjects in one. It really helps me to learn biology and improve my grades. And it’s helping me to prepare for the future. So STEM is a really good program, in my opinion.”

Additionally, Superintendent of Schools Michelle Rosenberg told us in an interview that the new curriculum enables students to learn and think outside their comfort zones.

“They have to use their brains, they have to use math, such as when they were building parachutes they are measuring data points and then they are analyzing that data. It’s real-world experiences for them,” said Rosenberg.

The school decided upon partnering with Pitsco Education, a private company that has been providing hands-on learning kits since 1971.

Rosenberg said that the company was meticulous in guiding the school’s teachers on how to incorporate the hands-on approach and also liberal with supplying all the gear, accessories and parts to ensure that each student has all the building blocks for their hands-on projects.

She added that she would recommend the company to other school districts seeking a similar STEM learning solution. In that vain, several teachers from a school district in Pennsylvania were in attendance to observe the students.

“They basically set up the whole lab, provide the training and they provide all these big bins of all the supplies you need, so it’s really like an all-in-one kind of deal, and they really teach you how to teach it,” Rosenberg said.

She also noted that the new STEM curriculum enables Anna L. Klein to be more competitive in retaining and recruiting a student body in the context of competition with charter and private schools.

“Anna L. Klein School has made tremendous strides the past five years, we’ve become very technically savvy. All of our students have Chromebooks and we are now a high-performing school. This [new curriculum] is only going to make us that much better and competitive with those charter and private schools that parents choose to send their children to.”