Focusing on STEM Curriculum
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)
The initiative to focus on STEM curriculum was established during the 2011-2012 school year. It meant that engineering courses and robotics clubs were going to be offered in all divisions and the hiring of instructors with specific knowledge and experience in those fields. The engineering curriculum that Admiral Farragut Academy is using is called Project Lead the Way (PTLW) and is offered at no additional cost or fees. Class size is limited and is filled on a first come, first served basis.
Educational Goals of STEM Curriculum
Science - Ability to use scientific knowledge (in physics, chemistry, biological sciences, and earth/space sciences) and process it to understand the natural world and to participate in decisions that affect it (in three main areas - science in life and health, science in Earth and environment, and science in technology).
Technology - Ability to use, manage, understand and access technology. Students should know how to use new technology, understand how new technology is developed, and have skills to analyze how new technology affects us, our nation, and the world.
Engineering - Ability of students to process knowledge gathered from a multitude of sources and design it into a useful product that solves a problem or accomplishes a task.
Mathematics - Ability of the student to use reasoning, logic, and critical thinking skills to solve complex problems. Development of these skills is directly related to the mastery of higher-level math concepts by the student.
How STEM Curriculum Will Affect Our Students' Futures
“STEM education is being touted by lawmakers and business people as the key to future job creation and international competitiveness.” - Tampa Bay Times
Thomas Friedman, in his book The World Is Flat, writes about the global competition we are facing in this technology driven world. More concerning is the increased competition our students will be facing to find jobs. However, many educators, businessmen and scientists are leading the revolution to improve the STEM foundation of all our students, not just those interested in a STEM related career. It has been said that we are "preparing our students for careers that do not currently exist and that they will be using technology that has yet to be invented." With such a daunting projection, we as educators need to rethink our educational pedagogy and methodology to inspire all our students to higher levels of achievement in all STEM areas.
Engineering / PLTW
PLTW (Project Lead the Way) is a hands-on, Activities-, Project-, Problem-Based (APPB) comprehensive curriculum, aligned with relevant national standards, and collaboratively developed and updated by subject matter experts – including teachers, university educators, engineering and biomedical professionals, and school administrators.
PLTW 's Pathway To Engineering is used in the high school and the Gateway To Technology (GTT) program is used in the middle school. The programs emphasize critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem solving. The hands-on learning engages students on multiple levels, exposes them to areas of study that they may not otherwise pursue, and provides them with a foundation and proven path to post-secondary training and career success in STEM-related fields. Click here to learn about engineering courses in elementary school.
Admiral Farragut Academy's Robotics Club participates in the FIRST® Robotics Program. FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a worldwide program and is used in all 50 U.S. states and in 55 countries.
FIRST® LEGO® League is used in middle school and divides students into teams. The year-long project is to design, as a team, their own solution to a scientific question or problem and build an autonomous LEGO® robot that performs a series of missions.
FIRST® Tech Challenge is used in high school and divides students into teams of up to 10 students. Teams are responsible for designing, building, and programing a TETRIX platform robot to compete against other robotic teams regionally and nationally. Each year a new challenge game is developed by FIRST®.