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STEM Program Coming this Fall

STEM curriculum will be introduced to Bay students in the fall of 2017

Bay Montessori School will introduce a STEM program to all Elementary and Middle School students in the fall of 2017. The program will integrate hands on STEM activities with the LEGO WeDo 2.0, Mindstorms EV3 and Simple Machines programs. The LEGO Education program incorporates LEGO bricks and hands on learning to make “science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and coding come to life.” The Montessori Education focuses on learning through concrete exploration, making the LEGO program a perfect fit for inclusion in the curriculum.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators.

The Montessori education shares many commonalities with STEM. Many of the skills today’s employers value are already key components of the Montessori Education: teamwork, decision-making, creativity, communication skills, and the ability to plan and prioritize work. Adding a STEM program will increase student’s readiness to become powerful contributors to both the workforce and to society at large.

Maria Montessori believed that to truly understand abstract concepts, they must first be explored in a concrete manner. The concrete materials she designed represent abstract concepts, to be absorbed into the mind by manipulation with the hands. LEGO provides the same hands-on experience, leading to deep-rooted understanding of abstract concepts in the areas of STEM. The LEGO website states that the program will “bring abstract concepts to life with a fun, hands-on approach that really engages students. LEGO bricks turn numbers, words, and ideas into real models that can be touched, described, and innovated upon. And by making the subjects tangible, they foster collaboration and encourage self-guided learning by creating enthusiasm and giving students the tools they need to overcome challenges.”

Bay Montessori students will use the LEGO education sets to develop a detailed understanding of mechanical and structural principles through activities such as building robots to perform complex tasks, or finding technological solutions to problems presented to them from the curriculum. Tammy Willen, the assistant head of Bay Montessori School, says, “We are so excited to introduce the STEM program to students at Bay. STEM has become a crucial component of education, and the explorative nature of the program makes it a perfect fit for the Montessori Education.”

The program will be led by Mr. Won Cha. Mr. Cha is a Montessori certified educator who has been with Bay Montessori School for 12 years as the lower elementary Math and Science teacher. He has an extensive knowledge of the science and mathematics materials that are used in the Montessori curriculum, and will be able to apply that knowledge in order to create an interconnected flow.

Bay Montessori School students will also participate in the First LEGO League (FLL). FLL is guided by adult coaches, and students are challenged to find solutions for real world problems such as food safety, recycling, energy, etc. Students research, plan, design, build, and program their MINDSTORMS robot, and then compete against other teams at local, regional, and national levels. The LEGO program will incorporate the use of Apple iPad Air 2 devices.

Bay is also developing STEM based partnerships with the nearby Naval Air Station Patuxent River, home of the Naval Air Systems Command.

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