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Posted September 6, 2016

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STEM, STEAM, STEALTH

Interactive labs focused on science, technology, engineering and math as well as art, literacy, transformation and health are popping up in APS elementary schools.

At S.R. Marmon Elementary, students are making slime and launching rockets.

Have a functional Smartphone (Apple and Android 4.4 or higher) that you want to get rid of? Donate it to S.R. Marmon and help the school create a virtual learning experience for students. Get more information here.

Across town at E.G. Ross Elementary, students are building catapults and catching bugs.

It’s all about hands-on, engaged learning in STEM, STEAM and STEALTH labs that are popping up in APS elementary schools across the district.

The interactive labs focus on science, technology, engineering and math as well as art, literacy, transformation and health – hence the acronyms.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade visit the labs on a regular basis in order to create, innovate and collaborate in real-life, meaningful ways.

Each lab has its own look and feel, but all are designed to expose students to hands-on activities that they might not otherwise experience. Both S.R. Marmon and E.G. Ross are 100 percent Title I schools, meaning most of their students come from underprivileged households.   

“This is a vulnerable, high-need, highly mobile student population that we’re helping make connections between academics and real life,” said S.R. Marmon teacher Diane Thomas, a former high school teacher who now sees all of the school’s 800 students in the new STEAM lab once every couple of weeks.  

“We know that neurologically, kids need engagement to invest in their learning, and those who are raised in poverty often have less exposure to this type of learning than others,” said Kathy Casaus, the instructional coach at E.G. Ross where all 500 students visit both the STEALTH lab, nicknamed MakerSpace, and the school's Digital Learning Center each week.

The STEALTH lab resembles an interactive children’s museum with students choosing among 25 stations ranging from circuits and robots to magnets and murals. All of the stations are standards-based and require problem-solving skills. For example, one of the most popular stations, “If I had a box, I could build…” asks students to work in teams to engineer a house, castle, bridge, maybe even a town out of cardboard boxes of assorted shapes and sizes.

“They decide what they want to learn,” said Christy Snell, who runs both labs at E.G. Ross. “They go to what interests them and they do their own learning.”

Schools are tapping into a variety of resources to help pay for these popular labs.

Funding for the STEALTH lab came from the Guhl Literacy Award, a $50,000 grant sponsored by the APS Education Foundation to support innovative proposals designed to advance student literacy.

Title I money helped pay for the STEAM lab at S.R. Marmon, as did in-kind donations from the community.

Thomas is looking to the community once again to help set up a virtual reality learning adventure in the STEAM lab. She is seeking used, functional Smartphones (Apple and Android 4.4 or higher) that students will be able to slip into a viewer and use with an app to create immersive 3D experiences.

The donations are tax deductible. For more information on how to give to the school, go here.

Watch as third graders problem solve in the STEALTH lab at E.G. Ross Elementary:

MakerSpace at E.G. Ross ES from APS in Motion on Vimeo.

Watch as first graders make slime in the STEAM lab at S.R. Marmon. 

Slime and STEAM from APS in Motion on Vimeo.

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