By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
Thanks to supporters of St. Ignatius Loyola Regional School, Sinking Spring, the elementary school broadened the popular STEM (acronym for science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum and instead launched an innovative curriculum called STREAM – science technology, religion, engineering, arts and math.
School staff, faculty and board members hosted STREAM night Oct. 17 to introduce and explore the many new acquisitions for the school’s STREAM Program with students, family, friends and members of the community.
STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Rather than teach the four disciplines as separate and discrete subjects, STEM integrates them into a cohesive learning paradigm based on real-world applications. At St. Ignatius the disciplines of religion and art were incorporated into the paradigm.
Kelly Berry, science teacher, said STREAM is the result of the school community’s yearlong study to determine ways to fortify and continue the legacy of academic excellence, heighten the level of academic function and reach a wider number of students.
“We began to consider some ways in which we could truly enhance our school’s academics and bring 21st century learning skills into the forefront of what we are doing, under the scope of a strong and comprehensive Christ-centered education,” said Berry.
The school community and board decided STREAM would be the focus of its annual fundraiser – The Inspire Dinner and Auction.
“We were met with generosity and overwhelming support from our school and parish community. Through the magnanimity of the events attendees, a strong supportive community and the tireless work of the event’s organizers, we were blessed to receive over $35,000.”
With funding from the dinner and auction, said Berry, the school acquired many items to establish STREAM, including Keva Planks, Blocksmith License, Cubelets Modular Robotics Kits, Dash Robots and accessories, and Cue Robots and accessories.
The popular Dash Robots and accessories, according to Berry, are smart enough to respond to voices and sounds. It has the capability to entertain and teach while singing and dancing, which makes for a fun and interactive learning experience for kids.
In addition, the school purchased MakeCode platform; Pre-Algebra Learning Center Kit, infrared thermometer; digital velocity speed gun; K’nex Renewable Energy Kits; handheld camera microscopes; Happy Atoms Complete Set; Punnett Square Set; Genetics Set; Fish and Onion Mitosis Slides; and BrickLAB Zoology.
Piquing the interest of most students is the digital velocity speed gun – which when pointed and shot at an object in motion accurately measures speed, and of objects in motion.
The extensive list also includes a Digital Video Lab; Science Discover Dynamics; Discover Engineer; Lego Mindstorm Robots; collaborative dry erase tables; Green Screen Technology; Augmented Reality Headsets; and Bee Bot Robot.
After spending months making STREAM a reality, Berry said the curriculum has sparked an increase in learning among the student body and a deepening of the faith.
We brought our Catholic identity to STEM. We cannot be any prouder,” she said.
“We cannot emphasize the generosity of our donors,” said Berry.
“Without them, we would not be able to create such a successful, strong and comprehensive STREAM program within our school. We are truly blessed by our school, community, church and donors that they saw the value in our vision and helped to bring it to fruition.”