At Powhatan Middle School, we have developed an innovative approach to incorporating STEM concepts and practices across the curriculum. When our school opened in its new building in 2018, we added a full time Instructional Coach for STEM. With a lab classroom dedicated to the STEM program and rebranded “The Innovation Lab,” we had the opportunity to explore new ways to support our instruction with hands-on, student centered learning activities that connect with the curricula and standards of any and every course in the school.
Lessons in the lab are scheduled and planned in collaboration with the classroom teachers and every student in the school has multiple opportunities to participate. In addition to class activities, students can sign up to work on independent projects based on their personal interests. Examples of lessons include: modeling text structures for 6th grade English using KEVA planks, designing and building models of Early American homes for 6th grade history, exploring how to transfer energy from alternative energy sources through 8th grade science, creating features for a theme park based on the novel, The Outsiders, for 7th grade English, scale models with 7th grade math, and using an assembly line to build propeller planes to support a 7th grade history unit.
Students appreciate the time to problem solve and create collaboratively and their teachers have the opportunity to observe, participate in, and assess their understanding in new ways.