The rumble begins at approximately 2:57 each afternoon. You can actually
feel it, transferred through the structure of the old house, before you hear it. Once the rumble starts, you know only two things: whatever is causing it is unstoppable, and it is headed your way. Overladen backpacks slam into the walls of the hallway outside the science labs, and a wave of energy hits as anywhere from 10 to 25 eager problem-solvers charge into the room. So begins Robotics Club. For the next hour, a storm rages. It is a storm of building and rebuilding, coding and debugging, collaboration and competition, success and failure...and it is perfect.
The idea of “STEM Education” has been f loating around educational circles for many years now, to the point where it has reached true “buzzword” status. When executed well, STEM shifts Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics learning away from the traditional teacher-centered model and instead synthesizes these four disciplines around problem-solving, discovery, and exploratory learning. Students develop deeper understandings by engaging in a situation in order to find a solution. In this day when “facts” are a Google search away, traditional approaches to math and science education fall short. Synthesis of varied disciplines, of diverse points of view and backgrounds, and of broad ranges in academic skills sets must become central to what and how we teach. Ensworth’s mission and commitment to improvement uniquely positions us to lead the educational shift.
Building on successes in multiple grades both in and out of the classroom, we are excited to share plans for expanded afterschool STEM offerings next year. Aligned with the middle school athletics and performing arts calendar, the after-school program will provide students in Grade 5
through Grade 8 additional opportunities for STEM exploration outside of the regular math and science classrooms. Anticipated topics include circuitry and electronics, computer programming, preparation for math competitions, robotics, Minecraft engineering, and more. Our after-school STEM courses also provide a unique opportunity to “incubate” units that we hope to ultimately fold into our science and mathematics curricula. As after-school STEM challenges are refined, learning targets become more focused, and equipment and facilities are anticipated, teachers can scale up these STEM courses to provide thoughtfully designed and fieldtested problem-based learning solutions in the classroom. This model was a great success with our fourth and sixth grade robotics engineering and programming units, and we are eager to expand.
Building the premier STEM program in Nashville is truly a community endeavor. Just as we expect our students to collaborate in the creation of deeper understandings, we hope that ALL members of the Ensworth family will get involved. Can you feel the rumble yet?
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP: • Take time to learn more about STEM Education and Problem-Based Learning. • Encourage your child to sign up for one or more after-school STEM opportunities. • Volunteer! Share what you know. Explore ways that your skill set can help grow this STEM initiative. • Don’t hesitate to ask for more. The growth of our STEM programs will be thoughtful and deliberate. Knowing you are there, adding your voice (and effort), helps us maintain enthusiasm and momentum.
More details about schedules and sign up instructions will be available in Ensworthy News in the fall. Robotics Club and Team will continue to be offered to interested students in Grades 3 and 4.
2014 SUMMER | 33
Theme: Evaluation & Improvement. A biannual publication of Ensworth School in Nashville, TN.