Over the past three years, under the leadership of Mr. John J. Sarandrea and the collaborative efforts of the Administrative Team, the New Castle Area School District (NCASD) has adopted and implemented a comprehensive STEAM program for all students in grades K-12.
As part of this engaging curriculum, elementary students learn about engineering through literacy projects and engage in programming and coding skills with Lego Robotics kits, Code.org curricula, and Bee Bots. Students in Grades 3-6 make 3D art projects come to life with Makey Makey or Hummingbird circuitry kits. Additionally, in Library all elementary students explore solving problems and following the engineering design process through novel engineering projects. Our elementary gifted program has also implemented STEAM projects to enhance students’ computational and problem solving skills. Most recently, the students in this program have adopted a new classroom called the “Tinker Tank,” which houses robotics kits, Chromebooks, a green screen, and two 3D printers. Highlighting collaboration and teamwork, these students pair up with students from other classrooms to do many STEAM-related projects.
At our Jr./Sr. High School, all 7th and 8th graders engage in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Design and Modeling and Automation and Robotics classes. These classes challenge students to learn how to use industry-standard software programs and high-tech computers to build, code, program and design. Students in grades 9-12 can choose from 11 other electives in the STEAM pathways such as Principles of Engineering, Applied Robotics, CAD, Graphic Design, Game Design and Mobile Game Design. As a result of this STEAM integration, students from the Jr./Sr. High School were featured at the AIU3 Center for Creativity STEAM Showcase in September 2016, where they showcased their projects from their Robotics and Engineering courses. A continued partnership with the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, The Franklin Center and BC3 are crucial in helping the program continue to flourish.
Finally, not only is NCASD integrating STEAM into the curricula, we are also creatively repurposing learning spaces throughout the district. With monies from grants, donations, and the general fund, the district has committed to creating innovative learning spaces at all the buildings. Harry W. Lockley Primary Center has an Outdoor Classroom with Butterfly Garden; George Washington Intermediate School has a STEAM Studio also known as the Tinker Tank; and the Jr./Sr. High School has transformed its basement into the Motivation Station, which houses a Makerspace, Robotics Lab, Engineering Lab, FabLab, and Tech & Gaming Room. These high-tech makerspaces allow students to learn in an environment that is designed to promote and foster creativity, student-choice and authentic real-world connections.