STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and math)
North Country School's STEM program helps students become inventive thinkers and creative problem solvers. At its core, our STEM curriculum asks students to define problems, develop solutions, build prototypes, and present their work. STEM instills strong math and science skillsets that help students tackle real-world problems. In our STEM projects, students' input and effort is valued, and they engage in a collaborative engineering process that incorporates what we call the four Cs of project-based learning.
- Creativity leads to trying new approaches, innovating, and inventing
- Critical thinking leads to analysis, assessment, and problem solving
- Collaboration means students work together to achieve common goals
- Communication means students articulate their own, and listen to others’, processes and outcomes
- Design and Build
- Out-times and Weekend Trips/Activities
- Design Week
- Senior Project
A great many projects have been completed by 7th-9th grade students in recent years, including community projects that benefit the school community, big build projects that tackle large engineering/building challenges, and tech theater that produces elaborate stage sets and manages all technical needs of a production). In many of these classes, students develop solutions using technical drafting programs, present designs to the community for feedback, and work collaboratively in all phases of the project.
In our robotics classes students learn to program and manipulate physical principals, as well as improve their problem solving skills. Through analyzing, testing, and redesigning students press through challenges and even setbacks, developing resilience and determination for this class and others.Classes include Hummingbird Duo (with the Scratch and Ardublock programming environments and Arduino with the Arduino IDE programming) and Lego Mindstorms EV3. Junkbots are also utilized for students to learn basic concepts and skills.
On weekends, class projects often continue or a standalone design and build project is offered. On Saturday nights, students sometimes tackle a one-hour design and build challenge that asks them to think like engineers (popsicle catapults, spaghetti towers and gumdrop structures are favorite challenges). Similarly, out-time activities often include fort building, construction projects, or excursions to examine the engineering of a manmade or natural structure.
Intersession is a full week at the end of winter term when students in grades 4-8 choose elective courses designed to inspire new passions and build new skills. Many of these electives give students opportunities to expand their STEM education. 3-D printing, movie making, animal skeleton re-articulation and Rube Goldberg Machines are a few intersession offerings that have engineering and innovation elements.
Students in grades 4, 5, and 6 participate in an annual design week challenge. While the challenge varies year to year, the process and parameters remain the same. To successfully complete the challenge, students practice the four Cs: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Design Week lays the groundwork for the STEM classes students will take in grades 7-9.