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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Turning Elementary Computer labs into STEM labs: A welcome change?



Elementary STEM Lab Teacher, Kevin Jarrett

Recently, elementary STEM lab teacher Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett) and researcher Dr. Jeremy Irvin (@dr_jeremy_ervin ) spent some time sharing the story of the transformation of an elementary computer lab into a STEM lab at Kevin's school on my podcast.. They are using the curriculum "Engineering is Elementary." What he's doing is powerful and important and I wish every school would follow this model.

Look at the blog where Kevin documents learning
with his students and communicates needs and
objectives with parents.

Blogging to share Learning and Lead

Take time to review his NCS Stemlab blog where he shares engineering, math, science, and technology with parents and mobilizes everyone to action. (He says he posts what he needs and almost immediately receives it on his desk the next day.)

How you can listen to the show

Listen to the show "Creative Approaches to Teaching STEM at the Elementary School Level" on Every Classroom Matters (BAM Radio Network) Listen  Itunes    Comment

If you want to subscribe via your podcast app (see my iCatcher tutorial) here's the RSS link to the show.

Kevin uses the Engineering is Elementary STEM curriculum.

How much money did they spend?

They use Google chromebooks and money from a $3,000 grant to get things set up, but besides that, they didn't really spend much money.

Essential Questions

As you take time to listen to the show, ask these guiding questions.

  • Does the name "computer lab" restrict what we think we should do in it? 
  • Is a STEM lab core or enrichment?
  • How would implementing a STEM lab at the elementary level impact a school? How did it impact Kevins?


We need STEM labs not computer labs but remember that the technology is an important component. His kindergartners are using Google Docs and all kinds of technology. If your students transferred to his school, could they keep up? Would they want to go back to your classroom after spending time there? If you're worried with your answers, then, perhaps you should consider being part of the vision of moving forward with STEM in your school.

I talked with my curriculum director, headmaster, and a few board members and said if I had one wish for our elementary, it would be a STEM lab for the elementary school.
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