Victory World Christian School’s STEM program grows nontraditional student participation through outreach to groups often underrepresented in STEM education and STEM careers.
Continue Growth in Nontraditional Student Participation
Victory World Christian School is a multicultural, multi-ethnic, inclusive education institution. Many of our student attendees are from underrepresented racial, ethnic, and gender groups. We contend that offering a STEM program will go a significant distance in championing the equal opportunity access to a challenging academic structure for our students.
STEM related careers are on the rise. According to the Pegem Journal of Education and Instruction, “It was observed that STEM-PBL led to an overall increase in the STEM career interest of students and this increase was realized significantly for the engineering field.” (Impacts of the project based (PBL) science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education on academic achievement and career interests of vocational high school students. Mustafa, C. 2018).
Without the exposure to rigorous coursework in the area of science, technology, engineering and math, the likelihood of underrepresented students choosing, and then excelling in, a career in one of those fields is extremely low. As an advanced STEM Christian school in Georgia, creating opportunities for students of all backgrounds to learn some of the most advanced STEM content in education is one of our strongest initiatives.
To encourage the growth of nontraditional student participation, VWCS makes systematic attempts to retain students from low-income families. Twelve percent of VWCS’ total student population is from low-income families who receive financial aid each year.
VWCS regularly offers STEM outreach events in the community. One such outreach is our STEM Summer Camp. We are strong advocates of reaching out to those undervalued segments of the community – who may otherwise not get that chance – and opening their minds to new possibilities.
Our robotics courses introduce students to the concepts of building and programming a robot. They are taught the steps of design, construction, and operation, and the computer systems used for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. VWCS uses two levels of robots in our Robotics program: WeDo 2.0 kits used at the K5 – 2nd grade level and EV3 kits for 3rd – 5th grade.
In addition to the EV3 robotics kits, VWCS students in the 3rd – 6th grade have used Arduino kits to gain an understanding of the relationship between hardware and software. We have seen firsthand how students use both creative and critical thinking skills to improve their use of improvisation, motivation, and self-direction through challenging, yet fun learning.
Digital art encourages our students to apply creative design differently than a traditional art class. Our students are challenged to create solutions to real-world problems as they use the online software tools created by Tinkercad to learn 3D design. One way we become aware of real-world problems is through our online 3D problem bank. School members post real-world problems to the website to which other students design a solution. This initiative gives students a hands-on opportunity to work through the Engineering Design Process as they create solutions. Once a solution is determined, students use VWCS 3D printers to create a model of the solution. Models are then given to the person who posted the problem – that person is free to apply the design solution to their problem or make suggested changes.
During their STEM lab sessions, students conduct science experiments that reinforce related content previously taught and discussed in the classroom. Students complete hands-on projects based on the Scientific Method or Engineer Design Process – depending on which one the student determines to be most applicable.
Throughout the class, we encourage students to think creatively and critically as they collaborate with peers, teachers, and others on how computers effect everyday life.
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