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March 2017

STEM in the Plymouth Public Schools

Superintendent Dr. Marty Semmel

Have you ever heard the term STEM used? STEM refers to Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Math and is an acronym you
will hear about more and more, especially in education. Educators have looked ahead to the careers that will be available to our students as they graduate and enter the workforce and have realized the importance of these areas. Here in Plymouth Public Schools we are working to incorporate STEM into our curriculum so that all students will have guaranteed opportunities built into their school days. We will be kicking off the STEM committee in mid-March with a wide variety of educators, parents, and community members to establish the work we have ahead of us and form an action plan.

Meanwhile, math and science continue to be a focus of daily instruction. The Connecticut Core Standards have clearly outlined the math content that should be in each grade level and also emphasize the math practices. The math practices refer to habits of mind around mathematics such as making sense of problems, creating models to represent thinking, persevering and attending to precision. Teachers are emphasizing these practices in instruction. In the elementary schools teachers are utilizing GOMath! as the core resource for instruction and the middle school is planning to adopt enVision 2.0 for the 2017-2018 school year. Recently, the middle school has aligned their math curriculum and some of our students are taking the full Algebra 1 course as eighth graders so that they can begin high school with Geometry. At the high school level we offer Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus and AP Statistics. Many students double up on math courses so that they can take full advantage of the offerings!
The state has just recently adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to guide science instruction. These standards are considered three dimensional as they encompass three main aspects. Those aspects are core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. The core ideas address the physical, life, and earth and space sciences as well as engineering. Crosscutting concepts look at aspects that cross core ideas and help students look for science in daily life such as cause and effect and observing patterns. Lastly, the science and engineering practices help students learn and understand what scientists and engineers do in the real world as they strive to answer questions and solve problems that arise. We are learning about these new standards and beginning to revise our science curriculum for grades three, six and nine for the 2017-2018 school year to align with the NGSS. Several teachers have been able to participate in free professional development at the Science Center in Hartford and experience what it is like to solve engineering challenges and research phenomenon. Stay tuned for more information about STEM and be on the lookout for how these skills could be applied in the jobs of today and tomorrow!

This article was submitted by Mrs. Jennifer Parsons, Director of Curriculum and Instruction


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