By Emily Youngblood
Sixth graders are experiencing a change in the Middle School curriculum, which now includes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). After sixth grade, Middle School students have the option of taking STEM as an elective.
Oak Hall administration had been working on adding STEM for the past several years, with its induction occurring this school year. “Our goals are to advance [STEM] into the Upper School and into the Lower School,” said Middle School Division Head Dr. Diana Murdock.
The class is very hands-on, and project-based. The specific contents of the course include “projects with CAD design, fashion, engineering, computer coding (c++ and swift), electronics, and game design,” according to STEM teacher Brett Anderson.
STEM is growing in importance within school districts and independent schools like Oak Hall. “When you are out in the field solving problems, you are using these skills of the scientific method, research, how to use technology to help you solve problems,” explained Dr. Murdock. Anderson agrees with Dr. Murdock’s sentiments. “It helps improve planning, creativity, reasoning, and critical thinking. It also benefits students socially by adding an aspect of group-responsibility,” he noted.
Mackenzie Rowe, an Oak Hall sixth grade STEM student, acknowledged STEM is her favorite class because it allows her “to get away from school work.” Another sixth grade STEM student, Ronnie Wehbe, explained that he liked STEM because of the numerous projects the students are involved with, especially 3-D printing projects.
“My favorite part of teaching STEM is kind of specific,” Anderson said. “I like to see students who, for whatever reason, see themselves as ‘bad at’ math or science or art, work through a multi-faceted project and come to realize that they have the ability to find success in almost anything by applying reason, good planning skills, and some hard work.”