Winning at Mack: Will STEM provide the academic answer?

stemteam

by Anthony Beron

It was a cheerleading event of sorts, but the team was a new academic specialty at McClymonds — STEM or Science Technology Engineering and Math.

On Tuesday night, about 80 people, including parents, students, administrators and representatives from Chevron and Project Lead The Way, met to celebrate the opening of McClymonds Project Lead the Way STEM project.

“This isn’t about making them [students] scientists or engineers, but making them critical thinkers and enhancing their life,” said math and STEM teacher Kat Hall, who taught the school’s first course this year.

“I’m certain that this class and academy will prepare our students for success,” said Colleen Piper, Spanish teacher.

With enthusiasm, principal Kevin Taylor talked about visiting STEM programs in Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Petaluma, and Piedmont only to create  “a Mack version of it.” The school partnered with Chevron for funding and with Project Lead The Way for materials and teacher training.

“I love one thing more than anything else and that is winning” said Taylor.

The expectation, he said, was that STEM would be a winning strategy for McClymonds, injecting creativity in the math and science curriculum and preparing students for the global workplace, a concept that PLTW’s Duane Crum emphasized in his remarks.”These kids can do the job if we pay for training; these jobs will fuel the California economy,” said Crum.

Hall talked about her course, explaining that she tried to spur her students with instant challenges, especially since there were no computers at the beginning of the year.

In one challenge, said student Kardel Howard, “we had to use five different pieces to make a cube. It was the most difficult and most creative project this year.”

Chevron specialist Janet Auer presented Hall with a certificate for a 3D printer. She did not specify the amount that Chevron is donating to McClymonds for the STEM program.

STEMrobotstudents

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