STEM curriculum brings excitement, curiosity to classroom

Lynch STEM Elementary offers PLTW Launch for K-5 students

LAPEER, Michigan – Sam McKinstry has already decided what she wants to do when she grows up. She wants to save the planet, one invention at a time.

“I want to be an inventor; I want to invent stuff to help the people of the world,” she said, peering through her blue, thick-rimmed spectacles.

Her initial project is to develop a product that will ensure safe-keeping for life-saving medicine. She’s bright and ambitious, but she should probably finish second grade first.

Sam is in Corrine Lomerson’s Project Lead the Way Launch (PLTW) class at Lynch STEM Elementary, about five miles north of Lapeer. She is an active and engaged student in the nation’s leading K-5 STEM curriculum. If you didn’t know, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. These are the core disciplines of the fastest-growing field in the US job market.

“We’re very excited to be able to offer this program to the students at Lynch,” said Ryan West, the school’s principal. “We’ve already seen how it enhances our current core curriculum. It gives students the opportunity to experience 21st century learning skills that all students need as they prepare for the future.”

Mrs. Lomerson believes that STEM skills should be learned early in a student’s career, and she has witnessed the excitement and curiosity it brings into the classroom.

“They are now solving their own problems,” said Lomerson, who underwent specialized training to teach the curriculum. “They’re beginning to use what they’ve learned to solve real-world problems.”

And the big secret, that no student seemed willing to keep, is this: PLTW is a blast.

“It’s fun for them,” said Nathan Aquilina, Lomerson’s colleague at Lynch. “They are able to participate in activities that we normally wouldn’t see in a traditional elementary program.”

One such exercise trains the power of mind and will: students see how long they can keep a popsicle from disappearing – and they can’t eat it.

Little Ireland Doyle, also in the second grade, says PLTW Launch lets her mind wander a bit – and that’s a good thing.

“We get to create stuff and you get to use your imagination to help you solve problems with your friends,” she said. “We get to make cool stuff, too.”

PLTW Launch is all about student engagement and collaboration. The curriculum helps to create an active learning environment in which students are encouraged to think critically, explain their process and experience innovation firsthand. It provides the foundation students need as they move into middle school, where even more STEM opportunities are provided for them – including PLTW at the Center for Innovation.

Ann Imel, a parent volunteer in Ireland’s class, said she is encouraged to see opportunities expanding. STEM is no longer a boys’ club.

“It’s a fantastic thing,” she said. “I’m really glad to see the girls working (in STEM), learning and explaining how they know what they know and think what they think.”

Visit Lynch.Lapeerschools.org to watch a video about PLTW Launch. For more information on enrollment or out-of-district transportation, call 810-667-2401.

 

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