ABOUT THE NEW YORK STATE STEM QUALITY LEARNING RUBRIC
STEM, also known as STEAM, gained momentium in 2011 when then, President Barack Obama told Congress and the country, “This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.” It was his call for the United States to ramp up technological innovation to stay competitive with other nations, spur economic growth, preserve national security, and propel ingenuity. Harkening back to the 1957 space race with Russia that spurred rapid growth in science and technological innovation, Obama called for the United States to seize this modern moment for our youth, asking educators to prioritize 21st-century skills learning.
According to the 2016 STEM Index by U.S. World News & World Report, “the number of white students who earned STEM degrees grew 15 percent in the last five years.” The number of minority students fell by roughly the same margin, the index found. Women’s interest in STEM also “decreased slightly” over the previous year. Growing overall student engagement for STEM and STEAM can happen through innovative teaching practices. It’s not enough to fill student schedules with STEM or STEAM classes or increase testing and rigor. Driving interest in STEM or STEAM means making them interesting and appealing to our nation’s kids. And dispelling math and science stereotypes will go a long way to addressing STEM’s optics problem.
Salamanca High School adpoted WNY STEM HUB's STEM Quality Learning Rubric as a guide for continuously improving STEAM learning in K-12 and informal learning settings. In addition, this tool will allow for a more cohesive approach to STEM education between formal providers, informal providers, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities.
Connections to Non-STEM Disciplines
"Students complete self-directed tasks that integrate knowledge/skills from STEM to multiple non-STEM disciplines including instructional support for quality performance in the non-STEM disciplines. The tasks solve an authentic problems."
Cross-curricular teaching has a long and rich history in education circles. Plato referred to the importance of linking emotional, practical and intellectual skills, combining music and movement, drama and literature, philosophy and politics. The educational luminaries of the Enlightenment, like Comenius, Rousseau, Froebel, Pestalozzi, each in their way championed cross-curricular approaches. These ideas were developed in the late nine-teenth and twentieth centuries by progressives like Steiner, Dewey, Montessori and Isaacs. At Salamanca we believe that offering students self-direct learning tasks in STEM that integrate the other core disciplines is critical to student learning and development. In High School Marketing class, students engineer a tablet computer using Rasberry Pi, 3D printers and Solid Works CAD software. Students develop a promotion plan for the new tablet and unveil it at our annual STEAM Fair. This is a cross-curricular project involving the Business and Consumer Math classes. During, Eighth grade Science, students a guided through the steps of experimentation as they develop an original science project that builds on scientific literature, tests their hypothesis and presents the results.
Degree of Use of Project-Based Learning (PBL)
"Students regularly complete self-directed, authentic PBL experiences in all STEM disciplines and multiple non-STEM disciplines."
Deep learning is a messy and complicated process that is best facilitated through project-based experiences. During the summer, Salamanca students get to participate in fun hands-on STEAM Camps that involved project-based cross-talk between the five disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM). During one particular camp, EXTREME STEAM, students were guided through a tower of multidisciplinary experiences that led to a final, environmental-themed, project. Students took a guided tour of Sculpture Park, to deconstruct the elements of decorative Art structures. The next day, they kayaked down the Ohi:yó River, documented wildlife and peered at water samples through microscopes. Afterward, students enjoyed a variety of solar and electricity experiments to learn basic electrical skills. The cumulative project for the week was the Seneca Clan Sculpture. The inside structure was made of solid-cut wood and stands about 7 feet tall. Inside the imposing structure, campers had LED lights running off of green solar power. Using recycled glass, the kids designed mosaics to represent the eight clans of the Seneca Nation. Epoxy-resin was poured in the panels to safely seal the glass shards before campers placed it in the structure. The structure lit up and will be donated to the community to serve as a commemorative reminder of Salamanca’s cultural heritage and history. Salamanca STEAM Camps are scheduled to return next summer but in the intermin time, students can look forward to the new Kayaking and Ecology Club, Student Spaceflight Experiments Program and Project Nanoline.
Connections to STEM Careers
"Students complete tasks in a simulated or real STEM work environment of their choosing and explore multiple STEM careers that directly connect to their STEM learning environment. Tasks include: describing the work/workplace, noting observations in a journal, describing the educational and skill requirements and reflections on the career/career experience."
The home-grown Warrior Graduation Initiative (WGI) is a research-based, assessment and career progression program designed to encourage Salamanca students to think, dream, and succeed in the STEM. It provides instructional programs that raise achievement values in test scores, grades, and attendance. As Salamanca students progress through their high school career, they are engaged with community role models and STEM carrier enrichment opportunities. The Project Nanoline, Vex and First Robotics Contest are one of many opportunity we provide for opportunity to showcase their talent and technical skills by designing and building an automation project in partnership with career experts from the community. After high school graduation, students can apply to Nanoline apprentice program in the fields of Mechatronics, IT, and Quality Control. Another opportunity we provide students to take leadership in our community and engage our community is Key and Torch Clubs. High school students perform acts of service in their communities, such as cleaning up parks, collecting clothing and organizing food drives. They also learn leadership skills by running meetings, planning projects and holding elected leadership positions at the club, district and international levels. Throughout the school year, students are encouraged to participate in STEM Field Trips to local scientific labs, environmental conservation societies’ and manufacturing firms. In partnership with Saint Bonaventure University, students are granted the privilege to conduct university research alongside an SBU faculty member. Their research experience takes place in the laboratories on the SBU campus. A faculty mentor works one-on-one with Salamanca students on a cutting-edge science topics for Biology, Chemistry of Environmental Studies.
Application of the Engineering Design Process
"Students are required to demonstrate higher order thinking skills in the engineering design process while using the full complement of design steps, well as iterative thinking. Students demonstrate the process of an everyday technology of their choosing and ideas that could improve the technological device or item."
Some of the answers to the world’s greatest challenges -- such as climate change, food security, and water scarcity -- lie right beneath our feet. Responding to these and other critical issues, Salamanca Earth Science students join others from around the country to digitally map the Earth’s soil and its properties. Significant knowledge and experience about the type of sensors, required maintenance, network operation, quality control and data, delivery was gained from this pilot project. Throughout the school year, Earth Science and Biology students complete a series of Eco challenges throughout the year where a goal is given and students must use their group and given materials to achieve the goal. Students construct an object, machine or system and that are adjusted and altered and used to collect data. Students have to use lab equipment given to them to build a system, collect data and use the data to provide an answer to the guiding questions.
Degree of Technology Integration
"Students are provided high quality resources and teachers have access to high quality training to support technology integration. Students regularly use technology to support scientific practices and cognitive skills and apply these transferable skills to solve real world problems in a student-centered environment."
Drones are revolutionizing the way that scientific and architectural teams conduct inspections, monitor crop growth and facilitate search and rescue operations. Salamanca High School provides high quality resources and training opportunities to augment our STEM program support use of technology integration. Last summer we rolled out fleet of drones with the purpose of community engagement and FAA Career and Technical Education Training. Several of our teachers participated in a comprehensive 16-hour training course to prepare them for FAA Pilot certification. Afterwards, we contracted a local startup company to provide curriculum and further training to our teachers to run a drone-robotics course for High School students and the Salamanca community.
Our recently added PowerSchool-Unified Classroom gives teachers a K-12 digital sandbox that combines assessment, instruction, and grading to improve student performance. Our teachers attended training throughout the summer. In combination with our 1-1 device program this technological solution will augment our classroom instruction with flipped classrooms, project-based STEM Assignments, and virtual field trips over the next few years.
Salamanca High School was a recent recipient of an Ralf G Wilson Jr. STEM Grant to build and supply our community Maker Space. Salamanca Engineering-Maker Initiative (SEMI) will place quality Technology resources in the hands of students from underrepresented and Native populations. Intermediate students will largely explore STEM through Maker Empire, Zspace 3-D Computers, VEX, and First Robotics. We plan to grant middle and secondary students open maker spaces with CNC Machines, Laser Printers and RAW materials for use during in our afterschool Program for enrichment and further skill refinement.
Salamanca High School is located right next to the Ohi’Yo River and just down the road from the Alleghany Mountain Reserve. This provides us with the unique opportunity to facilitate environmental and community engagement programs centered around these natural, breath-taking resources. Salamanca purchased 28 Kayaks for our Ecology and Community Education programs. In order to facilitate these programs, our teachers were required to secure a Level-II Kayak facilitator certification. Salamanca teachers from the Science and Physical Education departments trained and ACA certified for our upcoming Ecology and Environmental STEM initiatives.
Salamanca students get to participate in fun hands-on STEAM projects involve cross-talk and collaboration between the five disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM).