STEM Labs Bring Science to Students
STEM Labs Bring Science to Students
Posted on 01/05/2018
Two Charles C. Bell Elementary School students work on a project in the STEM Lab.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Buncombe County Schools’ new STEM labs are changing the way students learn!

By bringing the problem-solving methods used by engineers and scientists to our elementary schools, BCS teachers are preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.

“We don’t sit in rows anymore; we collaborate,” said Patty Long, a second-grade teacher at Charles C. Bell Elementary School.

Thanks to a grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, every BCS elementary school now has a STEM lab – a collaborative space where students take STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) concepts that they learn in their classrooms and apply them to solve hands-on problems in the lab.

“It gives them a chance to think differently,” Long said. “That’s what we want, creative thinkers.”

The labs feature worktables and supply bins with materials for fun and educational projects, along with STEM coordinators who help teachers connect the projects to STEM lessons.

“It gives them a chance to think differently. That’s what we want, creative thinkers," said Patty Long, a second-grade teacher.Melissa Melberg’s second-grade class built snowmen with paper balls in the C.C. Bell STEM Lab as part of a STEM Challenge last month. Each team had to try to build the tallest snowman that could stand on its own. The instructions were intentionally vague, providing only the goal and a few rules. The children had to figure out what to do based on their classroom science and math lessons.

“This is the design process,” Melberg said. “It requires constructive, collaborative thinking. More hands-on activities will transfer into the abstract thinking as they get older.”

Teamwork is the key to success, said C.C. Bell STEM Lab coordinator Michael Kerr.

“You put all the ideas in a bucket and then find out which one works best,” he said. “It might not be yours, but that doesn’t mean that yours isn’t valuable. It’s neat to see the lights come on, to see kids think ‘if we stop bickering and start working together, we’re going to get something done.’ There’s no wrong way to find a solution as long as you get there. And when these kids get older, they’ll realize the importance of collaboration, negotiation, and adaptability.”

STEM education is one of BCS Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin’s top four priorities. To learn more, click here.
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