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STEM pattern

STEM pattern

Mary Belle McCorkle Academy of Excellence K-8 School


School Location:
Tucson, AZ

Julia Burnett
Nicholas Babyak
Lauren Palma
Melissa Wilhite

School Website:

 What is the focus of your STEM Blueprint work this year?

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein. We wanted to bring this mindset into our K-3 grade levels. Our site teaches project-based learning (PBL) in grades 4-8. Students guide our upper grade instruction through authentic learning experiences. An area for improvement at our site is the preparedness of our students heading into the rigor of PBL. Our goal this year is to put a plan in place to ready those students.

What exciting STEM experiences have happened at your school so far this year?

Each quarter we design and facilitate a STEM day in the K-3 classrooms. The first quarter we put on a dinosaur discovery day with all the third-grade classes. Each of us taught a third-grade class all day. We were also able to get a paleontologist from the University of Arizona to come in (with dinosaur fossils!) and present about fossils. We had the students dig through sand and put together a dinosaur with their team. They also heard a read aloud on animal body parts and functions where we made connections between different dinosaur body parts like teeth and long tails and how they were used. The day ended with the students presenting their learning to other classes and their parents. Our team learned a lot from our first STEM day and so did the third-grade students and their teachers!

What STEM-related activities are you planning for the upcoming semester?

With all of our STEM days, we try and bring in an expert community member on the topic of our STEM day. We also learned from our third-grade day that we needed to meet with and be more of teaching partners with the classroom teachers. So with our second-grade STEM day, we met with those teachers twice before the day, divided up the teaching, and got their much needed help with the literacy piece of the day. Our second-grade STEM day was much more successful for it! Our Trustey team meets once a week to work on our STEM days, our newly launched STEM monthly newsletter, and to discuss our teaching observations. Being Trustey Fellows has really brought us closer as a team and closer with our colleagues and community.