Since the 1970’s, Sussex has integrated meaningful, high-challenge, problem-based learning across subjects. Next year, we are launching a STEM program in grades 5-8 to further strengthen our use of problem-based learning to stretch and support our students.
STEM is the intentional blending of four related disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These disciplines share an inquiry approach, where posing authentic questions leads to selecting appropriate tools and problem-solving techniques, applying them, and then evaluating the accuracy and effectiveness of those solutions. In isolation, each discipline is a powerful way to consider and approach the world. Together, the effects are multiplied. Math serves science and science serves math, enhancing the learning for both.
It’s important to note the value of isolating key skills and ideas when learning. Athletes and artists practice very specific skills to prepare for their crafts. It would be unrealistic to ask someone to perform without first learning the basics. Similarly, there is and will always be value in practicing math concepts, learning science vocabulary, and developing skill proficiency with tools. However, the isolated skills are not the disciplines. The test of those isolated practices is whether they can be integrated and applied. A STEM program intentionally creates more integrated learning opportunities while stressing key ideas, knowledge, and skills necessary to further development in each discipline.