Students get creative in STEM academy

Gray Hughes

Every Tuesday and Thursday for the last couple of weeks students at Hill City Elementary School have been gaining real world, hands-on experience.

This experience is done through the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) academy put on by four Hill City Elementary School teachers—Jamie Henderson, Linda Scott, Karen Gardner and Kassie Willard.

“I wish I could do this every day,” said Anna Rodriguez, who was working on coding a dancing animal at a session held last week.

Sixty-eight students have participated in the STEM academy, Henderson said. The academy held its final session Monday. There were four rooms in which students participated in a STEM project. One room was dedicated to coding to make an animal dance, one room participants got to play with a 3D pen, in another room participants coded to make a ball spin and in the final room students worked on an animation project.

“The biggest thing this program does is encourage creativity,” Henderson said. “It’s unique to what a student wants to do. Coding…is the perfect activity for kids who are creative minds.”

The activities, she added, are all hands-on and bolsters participants’ respect and knowledge of technology.

The participants, Henderson said, have a greater understanding of technology than most realize. Their participation in the STEM academy brings out hidden talents and helps participants in the classroom in general.

Coding, Henderson said, not only relies on math and technological knowledge but also language arts skills.

Programs like the STEM academy are needed, Henderson said, because both the present and future of the world lies in technology.

“We use differentiated instruction in public education,” she added, meaning the school aims to engage all students regardless of their learning styles. “We talk about cross-curriculum and incorporating every subject. STEM activities do that.”

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