Abby May, STEM program specialist for Fulton County schools in the Northeast Learning Community, said 38 teachers have joined the new STEM Teachers Academy, which held its first meeting late last month.
The academy, which will meet about every two months, will help participants teach STEM at a higher level in their classrooms, she said. The teachers participating represent various grade levels from many of the 22 elementary, middle and high schools in Roswell, Alpharetta and Johns Creek that make up the Northeast Learning Community.
“Our country and our state and our county are still trying to figure out what STEM looks like as far as the day-to-day classroom management,” May said. “One of the things that I really wanted to do was to bring the teachers together in kind of a cohort that they would learn and study alongside each other about what STEM is, how to incorporate it, how to build lessons around it [and] how to utilize different technologies.”
She said the teachers in the academy have identified that they would like to write a STEM lesson and do better at implementing those subject areas in their classrooms.
Aiding in the increased focus on STEM are new science and advanced strategy labs at four elementary schools. This year, River Eves Elementary School in Roswell has a new science lab. Hillside Elementary School in Roswell and State Bridge Crossing and Shakerag elementary schools in Johns Creek have new advanced strategy labs, which feature critical thinking games and Lego robotics.
“[Fourth and fifth graders] actually build a robot,” May said. “The younger kids … build simple machines.”
She said the science lab at River Eves is similar to middle or high school labs with advanced technology, equipment and learning aides.
“[The lab] is kind of the place where they feel like little scientists,” she said. “They’ve got their lab coats and they do bigger hands-on things that they may need help from another teacher with in that lab.”
May said a new science lab is slated for Barnwell Elementary School next fall.
“My hope is that we get either the advanced strategy labs or more advanced science labs in our other elementary schools,” she said.