S.T.E.A.M is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Agriculture and Mathematics. At Poynette High School, the STEAM program fully embodies the enthusiasm for imagination and discovery that everyone experiences as a young child. We combine this enthusiasm with a project-based format, personalized to fit different student interests and talents.

The first step for our students is to explore a possible problem or project having to do with specific pieces of technology or machinery. Our students then produce a visual flowchart, which asks the student to develop an action plan that addresses the process of completing the project. The flowchart guides STEAM students to problem solve possible issues that might arise with a project, including costs and resources needed, as well as knowledge and skills necessary to complete the task.

Poynette STEAM students are encouraged to problem solve their way past mistakes and roadblocks that might appear in their path. Students seek out information and research possibilities, many times using local professionals who might have expertise in the field in which the student wants to explore.

Students are taught to expect to make mistakes and hit roadblocks with their projects. They learn mistakes are learning experiences and provide the opportunity for dramatic growth. The STEAM class replicates real life workplaces, in that the student projects involve many departments requiring input from each to succeed.

Our projects generally take a week or two to complete in class, but the experiences and lessons learned last a lifetime. Each project ends with a brief student reflection of how they felt the project went, outlining strategies in hindsight that would have made the project go more smoothly. There are student smiles and lots of pictures in a portfolio that displays their progress with STEAM knowledge and skills.

We would love to have automotive specialists, wildlife biologists, electronics specialists, automotive professionals, mechanical engineers, tradesmen and women, artists, designers and those who use mathematical skills in their everyday lives to be involved on our community professional team. This might include a consultation with our kids, possibly allowing them to interview you our simply sharing an invite with us to visit you at work. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your information.

Jennifer Shepard is the business education and STEAM teacher in the Poynette School District. She can be reached at 608-635-4347, ext. 409, or jshep@poynette.k12.wi.us.

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