By Lindsay Field Penticuff
When you think about it, STEM is at the root of everyone’s daily lives,” shares Emily Adams, Science Department Chair and Innovative Teaching Chair at The Walker School in Marietta. In fact, teaching students to think logically, evaluate data, weigh the value of evidence, draw conclusions and communicate their insights to others are skills that will benefit them as they enter adulthood and contribute to the well-being of their families and communities. “Our brains are wired to delight in the natural world around us,” she adds. “STEM education, when done with intention, immerses kids in the joy and wonder in the exploration of their world.”
The Walker School is just one of many metro Atlanta private schools that is dedicated to educating their students about the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or STEAM, which features the addition of the arts. KNOWAtlanta Magazine asked schools across the area about their approach to STEM; here, they explain why they prioritize these academic disciplines and share the offerings they have for students in kindergarten through the 12th grade.
3254 Northside Parkway NW | Atlanta, GA 30327
(404) 845-0900 | atlantagirlsschool.org
“By integrating STEAM into the K-12 experience, students are ready to take on further opportunities in these areas as soon as they start their next chapter.” ~Lisa Rios, Computer Science and STEAM Teacher, Robotics Coach, Atlanta Girls’ School
An all-girls’ school, Atlanta Girls’ School (AGS) sees STEAM as an integral part of its academic program. One of the best signs of its commitment is that all sixth graders are required to take a year-long STEAM course in addition to their required science and math courses for the year. AGS also began offering AP Computer Science Principles for the first time this year, and the school has had competitive middle and high school robotics teams in the last four years. Additionally, one of its other signature programs, Leadership Labs, includes STEAM-based options, including an intensive course for students who are interested in designing, carrying out and presenting a science fair project at the regional and subsequent levels.
2890 N Fulton Drive | Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 841-3840 | aischool.org
“Several alumni have mentioned that their involvement and leadership in our STEAM programs was key in their acceptance to top universities.” ~Dr. Peluchi Flores, Director of STEAM and Interdisciplinary Learning 3K-12, Atlanta International School
At Atlanta International School (AIS), the administration believes that every important issue—and the actions needed to address them—comes back to STEM education in some way. That’s why the school feels that it is critical for students to be able to apply and synthesize what they learn in different STEM disciplines. There are many STEAM-related programs, clubs and societies at AIS—everything from robotics to filmmaking and the Space Program, which is hugely popular and always evolving. Many of the school’s students say their most innovative ideas take place while having the freedom to tinker and explore in one of the on-campus makerspaces. This is where students can design, create, engineer, build and present their solutions to real-world problems individually and in collaborative teams. Several alumni have mentioned that their involvement and leadership in the school’s STEAM programs were key in their acceptance to top universities.
50 SE Broad Street | Fairburn, GA 30213
(770) 306-0647 | landmarkchristianschool.org
“STEM is important because it teaches the principles that will be applied to the jobs that are not even in existence today—critical thinking, problem-solving skills, collaboration and more.” ~Baffour Osei, Lead STEM Faculty Member, Landmark Christian School.
In the elementary school at Landmark Christian, the technology, engineering and design (TED) class serves students in first through fifth grades. The TED teacher encourages elementary students to use 21st Century skills to complete hands-on projects, as well as think holistically and in a more connected way to solve problems. In addition to the school’s engineering, coding and automation classes, Landmark Christian now has machine learning, 3D printing and machining as part of its STEM curriculum. And Landmark Christian recently opened a new makerspace in the new high school; it features state-of-the-art computer numerical control (CNC) machining technology that includes a CNC lathe, CNC mill and CNC router. This technology allows the school’s students to expand their interests in working with tougher materials like steel and aluminum.
4075 Paces Ferry Road NW | Atlanta, GA 30327
(404) 262-3032 | lovett.org
“We believe that the integrative approach of STEM education has impacted other content areas in a profound way. Educators from all disciplines have always looked for ways to make learning more relevant and expand their teaching repertoire.” ~Rebekah Daniell, K-12 Director of Academic Technology, The Lovett School
In The Lovett School’s Lower School, students spend time meeting with classroom teachers to integrate InGen makerspace projects with their English/Language Arts, social studies or math units. They also have a GlowForge laser cutter that they are working to integrate into student projects, allowing them to utilize their vision and creativity in various ways. What’s more, the school is currently expanding the Robotics Program in the Upper School. Led by 11th and 12th grade students, the program allows the older students to share their knowledge with ninth and 10th graders to help prepare students for future team competitions. Lovett also plans to expand STEM opportunities within the community and create references and how-to’s for teams. And as part of Lovett’s upcoming capital campaign, the school plans to reimagine its STEM spaces and find ways to make them more accessible and cohesive for all members of the Lovett community.
1275 Stanley Road NW | Kennesaw, GA 30152
(770) 578-0182 | mtparanschool.com
“There has been a focus within the last 10 years for STEM education to become a key part of the curriculum as an effort to ensure that students are well-rounded and fully prepared with 21st Century skills.” ~Tina Baker, Assistant Head of Lower School, Mount Paran Christian School
Mount Paran Christian School is proud to be an official Project Lead the Way school. With a K-12 Project Lead the Way curriculum, learning experiences are authentic, hands-on and application-oriented, and students are engaged as investigators, experimenters, designers and makers. The school is currently awaiting the opening of the Murray Innovation Center (MIC), a 23,000-square-foot expansion that will offer innovative spaces for enhanced programming and instruction for an enriched high school educational experience; the expansion will almost double the size of the high school and is expected to open this spring. The final design offers improved layouts for student experiences in every STEAM discipline, and the MIC will include a dedicated robotics field, new science labs, technology-rich collaborative areas, a digital lab, a makerspace, a fabrication lab, the Roost Café for entrepreneurship classes and a lake-facing quad with picturesque spots for outdoor teaching and community events.
966 West Paces Ferry Road NW | Atlanta, GA 30327
(404) 262-1345 | paceacademy.org
“I do think that STEAM education has impacted other areas of the curriculum—that’s the goal. We want students to problem solve, collaborate and think critically in every classroom and beyond, and cross-curricular collaborations have become much more common here at Pace, which is exciting.” ~Katie Sandlin, Lower School Technology Teacher, Pace Academy
The overall goal of the STEAM and Design programs at Pace Academy is to develop in students the mindset and practical skills for identifying and tackling pressing challenges, both globally and locally. Educators want to help address what students need today in order to be successful in their futures. This is evidenced in the growth of the school’s Lower School Robotics Program over the past few years, which has been phenomenal; members participate in the First Lego League, and the program has added fourth and fifth grade teams in recent years. Additionally, Pace’s new Kam Memar Lower School just opened and includes state-of-the-art classrooms and makerspaces for science, design thinking and the arts. In these spaces, students can build awareness and understanding of real world problems through a human-centered, hands-on and team-based approach to learning.
1509 S Ponce De Leon Avenue NE | Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 270-2300 | paideiaschool.org
“STEM creates the opportunity for teachers to enrich their curriculum with innovative, hands-on approaches. For example, our students have created interactive 3D maps, Minecraft simulations of ancient Rome and VR experiences based on their literature books.” ~Dave Fergemann, STEAM Coordinator, The Paideia School
The high school science program at The Paideia School has some of the most diverse offerings in the Atlanta area, including Forensic Science, Medical Botany, Oceanography, Neuropsychology, Humans and the Environment, Disease and the Modern World and AP courses in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. And at the upper elementary level, the school recently added a weekly class called Inquiry, which focuses on developing critical thinking skills through hands-on activities that connect to the science curriculum. Additionally, each spring, students participate in the Atlanta Science Festival by hosting the Family Science Carnival, in which students from all levels of the school create science-based games and activities. Paideia is also in the midst of a capital campaign that will allow the school to build new, fully equipped makerspaces and other STEAM facilities for all three division levels.
4301 Northside Parkway NW | Atlanta, GA 30327
(404) 231-8100 | trinityatl.org
“Now that we have a deeper awareness of what STEAM is and how it’s implemented, teachers are seamlessly using STEAM instructional practices in all classes, across all subject areas, to create hands-on learning experiences driven by student inquiry and creative exploration.” ~Martha Harris, Director of Curriculum, Trinity School
Over the years, STEAM education has evolved from a standalone course or unit of study to a broad integration into the overall program at Trinity School, as the administration wants the school’s students to see how interconnected all learning is and how their strengths in one academic arena can support and propel their learning and understanding in other areas. Trinity is fortunate to have materials and resources that support STEAM education throughout the school, including experts, materials and spaces that engage students in intentional learning experiences in which they all have an opportunity to create, design and problem-solve. This includes a dedicated makerspace, a technology lab and outdoor learning spaces that engage and ignite curiosity for young learners. And in recent years, the school has developed a curriculum and innovation hub (iHub) that educates each student on the foundations of engineering and design principles.
700 Cobb Parkway N | Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 540-7229 | thewalkerschool.org
“Our brains are wired to delight in the natural world around us. STEM education, when done with intention, immerses kids in the joy and wonder in the exploration of their world.” ~Cristi LeBron, Technology Department Chair and Director of Educational Technology, The Walker School
Wonder and inquiry are infused in all areas of the curriculum at The Walker School. The school has created an eighth grade Physical Science Seminar course that allows students who are deeply passionate about science to take a deeper dive into the fields of physics and chemistry through collaborative, open-ended projects. And in order to continue to strengthen the vertical connections with the Lower School science program, Walker has incorporated some FOSS (Full Option Science System) inquiry-based units in the sixth and seventh grade classes to keep the questioning going. In the Upper School, Walker has created a Science Policy elective to engage students in the vital connections between scientific knowledge and application of that knowledge in society. This year, students are grappling with public health, energy, climate change, the environment and space by participating in conversations with subject matter experts across the country.
1772 Johnson Ferry Road | Marietta, GA 30062
(770) 971-1880 | woodacresschool.org
“STEAM learning at Wood Acres promotes team collaboration, develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills and nurtures the social-emotional side of students.” ~Sarah Paquette, Science Director, Wood Acres School
At the Wood Acres School, the mission is to educate and prepare students for situations that they will encounter in higher education and in their chosen careers. All topics covered in the classroom are always discussed as they relate to the real world. Early STEAM exposure is key to a future filled with new technology and improved ways of life. That’s why all kindergarten through eighth grade students take designated STEAM classes. And last year, the school added a STEAM spring tinker class for pre-K students. Wood Acres also offers gender-split STEM/STEAM classes in middle school and has a designated STEAM lab building called the HIVE on campus. Freedom for creative vision is encouraged and integral to each activity that students work through in the HIVE.
The College Football Hall of Fame STEAM Playbook
The best way to engage students is to find a way to connect learning to the things they love. The Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame has done just that with its new STEAM Playbook, which provides a resource for educators to combine the passion for football with learning in an interactive and immersive way. With the hands-on “T.E.A.M.S.”(Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics and Science) curricula, students can experience the unique exhibits and interactives at the Hall of Fame from anywhere, from the classroom and the football field to their very own homes. Kids of all grade levels learn while having fun as STEAM is brought to life through real-world applications and the best of football history is blended with interactive technology. Educators can access the student-friendly curriculum online. The Playbook also includes a special financial literacy experience for students in grades 9 through 12, courtesy of Regions Bank, which offers a curriculum designed to prepare students with early financial planning tools.
Visit cfbhall.com to learn more and cfbhall.com/groups/field-trips/educational-resources to download the playbook.