Faculty and Staff at Olympia North are busy designing a new “hands on” Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) lab at the school. STEM is a type of curriculum, kindergarten through college, designed to help students be competitive in technology development by providing opportunities that will allow them to excel at high-tech jobs.
A STEM program provides many benefits to students. STEM allows students to work on real world problems and solutions in a safe learning environment. STEM fosters “outside of the box” thinking by encouraging students to think critically, creatively and to be innovative. As in the real world, teamwork, collaboration and communication is a major focus. The great Thomas Edison once said, “I didn’t fail. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” With that in mind, in a STEM lab, failure is valued as a learning opportunity and mistakes are embraced, not penalized.
The STEM lab at Oly North is located in the old Pre-K room. Many items have been purchased for the lab such as 3-D Magic Pens, Keva blocks, and Dash & Dot coding robots. Faculty members received grants from CIDSO, OFFE and the U of I and McLean County Extension Foundations, which funded items such as a 3-D printer, growth mindset games, and maker/breaker space materials. One of the more popular items in the STEM lab proves to be the Lego wall.
While the major benefit of creating a STEM lab is to adequately prepare students for the future, the end goal is to foster a lifelong love of learning.