Middle School STEM has 50,000 Reasons to Love the PEF
In 2012, the teachers in the Pentucket Middle School Science Department identified a significant need to upgrade the desks and chairs in their classrooms, to enable new configurations that would enable STEM students to collaborate on projects. They also needed to modernize their computing infrastructure and replace aging beakers, thermometers, meter sticks and other equipment. Finally, they needed to upgrade their supply of laptops. In short, they needed an infrastructure overhaul for the STEM program, and turned to the PEF for help.
The PEF, in conjunction with the Institution for Savings, awarded a $50,000 grant to go toward the Middle School’s STEM program and science classrooms. In addition to the new desks, chairs and equipment, the STEM program procured a cart of 12 new laptops dedicated to science class, as well as 10 iPads for teachers and staff. As icing on the cake, the STEM program was able to procure 20 Lego kits for simple machines and programmable robotics, which have been incorporated into the curriculum.
The STEM classroom has evolved significantly since the grant, complete with a mini computer lab, and the curriculum has expanded to include the Lego Simple Machine Challenge and Robotics Units. “I have been able to develop engaging lessons and activities that vertically align with the high school engineering program,” said science teacher Shawn MacDonald. “The new STEM classroom provides the space and resources for students to collaborate on projects and engage in real-world problem-solving.”
The classroom layout is now open, the space has been beautified, and there is plenty of workspace and storage for ongoing projects. Teachers use the iPads for instructional, organizational, and creative purposes.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Institution for Savings and the PEF, the science department has been able to replace old, worn out equipment with updated supplies as well as provide the opportunity to use technology in the classroom more often,” said science teacher Nancy Wile. “This has allowed us to create a working space where students can pursue an understanding of science through collaboration and innovation.”