A COVID-Inspired Action Plan to Expand STEM Classes
Editor’s note: Nora Wedwick and Elif Ozkok are in fifth grade at the Gifted Academy at Thurgood Marshall School. They wrote this post on behalf of their classmates.
COVID-19 stinks. It messed up many things about this year. Lots of the cool opportunities that we love participating in were shut down. But one good thing came out of it: an exciting new STEM class for the fifth and sixth graders at Thurgood Marshall School. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The class offers many different learning opportunities, including solving world problems with STEM, coding, robotics, circuitry and aeronautics.
Why was a new STEM class exciting? During the first half of this crazy school year, we had a mini STEM class once a week to fix a scheduling issue due to the coronavirus pandemic. We loved working with robots and coding and so much more! The problem was that normally at our school, STEM was only for the seventh and eighth graders. We thought this was unfair and that it needed to change. We knew that we wanted STEM to continue for other students entering fifth and sixth grade.
There were many steps to make this class addition happen. Each one of those steps took some time. It wasn’t easy, but we worked very hard as a team to get it done. First, we watched a video on how to create and propose a new class for our school. This was a really important starting point. It got us so excited about this new STEM class and helped us understand the complexity of the project. Then, we brainstormed what made a good presentation to convince the school leaders to add the new class. To do this, we set up a few poster boards and had the entire grade write down ideas on each poster. For example, one poster had the title, “why STEM?” We scrambled to write all the reasons we could think of including that the class would help us to become better problem solvers, critical thinkers, collaborators, model designers and communicators. We worked very hard to make the presentation understandable and neat and chose representatives from our grade to pitch our idea to our principal Mrs. Powell, our vice principal Mrs. Jones, and the Executive Director of Schools and Special Programs, Dr. Psaltis. They listened to our ideas and asked us lots of tough questions. And our proposed STEM class was approved! We are so happy and ready to get to work figuring out the details for our new class.
Elif Ozkok and Nora Wedwick
Elif Ozkok and Nora Wedwick are fifth graders at the Gifted Academy at Thurgood Marshall School. Elif’s favorite subjects are science and math. Nora’s favorite subjects are social studies and science. They both love participating in sports.
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