STEAM- Science * Technology * Engineering * Arts * MathematicalWhy STEAM in Middle Schools?Middle school is the perfect time for students to explore and learn that there is more than one way to reach a solution.  Through topics like robotics, flight and space, and DNA and crime scene analysis, middle school students engage their natural curiosity and imagination in creative problem solving.  This program is a strong foundation for further STEAM learning in high school and beyond, challenging students to solve real-world problems, such as cleaning up oil spills and designing sustainable housing solutions. Using the same advanced software and tools as those used by the world’s leading companies, students learn how to apply science, technology, engineering, and math to their everyday lives.

Why isn’t the STEAM curriculum covered under the funds raised from the Technology Bond?

The funding from the Technology Bond can only be used towards capital improvements such as updating networks, laptops for teachers, and other technology that was in place when the bond was passed.  Funds do not cover software, teacher professional development, or other classroom lab equipment that we are now seeing in competitive schools such as 3D printers and robotics kits.

How is STEAM curriculum funded by other school communities?

This depends on where schools are based, the state funding available to them, and how private dollars support schools.  Schools throughout the country have mostly been able to look to corporate sponsorship, from family businesses, startups, to multinational corporations.  This is the first time that the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation has approached private and corporate donors to fund an effort like this.  It is specific, finite, and the foundation for innovative programs to come.

What is the breakdown for this Middle School STEAM effort?

We are trying to raise $350,000 for all 7 middle schools.  Each school will receive:

  • $30,000 worth of computer stations, digital projectors, and software specifically to support the Project Lead the Way, STEAM Curriculum
  • $10,000 worth of class materials and supplies such as cordless drills, digital cameras, power meters, construction kits, dissecting kits, soldering kits, and instructional DVDs.
  •  $7,500 worth of VEX robotics kits
  • $2,500 3D printer, software, and filaments.

How many children will this effort impact?

All 6th and 7th grade students will be required to take a STEAM class this Fall 2015, with 8th graders offered the option.  STEAM classes do not replace electives.  There are 3,600 middle school students in Ann Arbor Public Schools.  The middle school program will allow for a foundation that will be built upon at the high school level where STEAM is already in place(Skyline, Pioneer).  Should this campaign be successful, we will also plan to fund STEAM at the high school level, roughly $58,000 for each high school.

What are the recurring costs to maintain STEAM in all middle schools?

The annual program fee for Project Lead the Way is $750/school.  The Ann Arbor Public Schools has not requested funding for 2016 and on.  Should they request a grant then that will be reviewed by the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation and funded through a permanent Technology Fund.

What is unique about this curriculum?

Project Lead the Way, the vendor providing STEAM curriculum and training throughout the country, has developed middle school units on:

  • Design & Modeling
    • Students apply the design process to solve problems and understand the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They work in teams to design a playground and furniture, capturing research and ideas in their engineering notebooks. Using Autodesk® design software, students create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their innovative solutions.
  • Automation & Robotics
    • Students trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics as they learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Students use the VEX Robotics® platform to design, build, and program real-world objects, such as traffic lights, toll booths, and robotic arms

What are the benefits of STEAM?

Today’s students need to possess certain knowledge and skills to thrive, no matter their chosen life and career paths. Being comfortable taking risks, adept at collaboration, confident in the face of significant challenges, and skilled at carving out unique solutions are just a few of these essential skills. With access to hands-on, project-based STEM curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving, these professional and life skills are easily within reach of tomorrow’s leaders.

The opportunities in STEM are tremendous. By 2018, the United States will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs. STEM occupation options are varied, including aerospace engineer and zoologist, computer programmer and architect, which affords students a multitude of options, no matter their interests. Despite this vast landscape of opportunity, a staggering 75 percent of students talented in math and science decide not to pursue STEM in college.(U.S. Dept. of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, 2011; Infographic: The Math-Science Shortage, Getting Smart, 2011)