Marlington Students are STEAMing into Enhanced Learning Experiences
When the school day ends at Washington Elementary School the students race to the school's Imagineers STEAM Club lab to spend another hour tackling challenging projects. Within minutes the students are fully engaged in 3D designing, programming robots, producing prototypes, developing furniture, creating stop animation movies and engineering with Legos. The club has exploded within the last two and a half years. What started as a small six-week trial club with eighteen students, has now grown to 180 participants from 1st-5th grade.
Program Director Aubree Horning currently manages six separate club sessions each week to accommodate everyone's interests. There are four after school sessions and two held before the school day begins. The club - which challenges students to create a different project every week - introduces STEAM concepts that empower them to become innovators and technologically proficient problem-solvers.
The STEAM program develops important skills that students need as they transition to middle school where they have the opportunity to participate in Project Lead the Way (PLW). PLW career pathways include: computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. Students engage in hands-on activities and are expected to solve real-world challenges. Some projects may include: building a basic hovercraft, using calipers and orthographic sketching to reverse-engineer an Eraser Puzzle Cube, or learning computer programing for an automation and robotics project.
With all the success of STEAM Club at Washington Elementary, the district has expanded the program to other elementary schools, the high school, and hosted a summer STEAM camp. At the high school, students have a wide variety of STEAM options including the year-round robotics class. They learn introductory C programming and apply it to control shoebox-sized robots. Students design and build the robots themselves and incorporate various types of sensors to allow them to detect the world around them.
There are so many students involved that Marlington recruited and trained nineteen adult volunteers to help. These volunteers come every week to assist students in learning new skills, provide a listening ear for the students to share their ideas, and even create their own inventions. Students and adults working together to complete their inventions is collaboration at its best!