Four years ago, DavieLiFE introduced to the community a new program that launched to 134 ninth graders, exposing them to a new and unique way of learning. Since then, a lot has changed, including seeing those ninth graders graduate and move on to college and the workforce.
In this special Back to School issue, we want to share with you our interview with STEM faculty members, and how things are looking at The STEM Center at Davie High….Four Years Later!
For those that may just be hearing about STEM or thinking about this program for a futurehigh school student, what exactly does STEM mean?
The S in STEM stands for Science,
the T for Technology,
the E for Engineering, and
the M for Mathematics.
At Davie High, STEM curriculum:
• emphasizes connections within and between the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and all humanities classes including the arts.
• integrates technology in meaningful, powerful ways.
• introduces and engage students in the Design Process.
• fosters college readiness and emphasize leadership skills.
• offers unique enrichment experiences.
Now that the first STEM class has graduated, what are some reflections on the overall experience from a teacher’s perspective?
The program has experienced serious accomplishments from a cross curriculum perspective. We truly partner and collaborate with other departments which has resulted in a very fluid experience for our students. They are learning different curriculums but in a somewhat seamless fashion. For example, it is not uncommon for math concepts to be taught in art, science concepts to be taught in history. Students walk away from STEM with a skill set that is so important—knowing how to figure something out themselves. Often, student’s questions are met with responses from instructors that are also questions.
Another takeaway from the program is the huge opportunity it provides for students to get involved but also have experiences that they may not have otherwise. The access to college campus tours, lunch and learns where they are exposed to possible careers and volunteer opportunities are like no other.
What are some myths about STEM?
MYTH: STEM is better.
FACT: STEM is NOT better, it is different. Not every student will be interested in STEM and that is ok. What makes the program different is the manner in which instruction is delivered and the power students are given to focus on strategies and methods vs. content.
MYTH: STEM teachers are better.
FACT: Donna Dunn put it best, “STEM teachers are not better, they are Davie High teachers. Our school is recognized throughout the state for our teaching caliber and that is school-wide.”
MYTH: STEM appeals more
to male students.
FACT: At Davie High, instructors strive to encourage ALL students to open their minds to many career and college possibilities. Currently, female students are extremely involved in STEM and actually outnumber males in the number of Distinction portfolio graduates.
Students in the STEM program have the opportunity to graduate with Distinction. How did this resonate with the Class of 2016 and what should future STEM graduates work towards to achieve this?
The Class of 2016 had 24 STEM Distinction graduates. These students planned early and intentionally to achieve this designation. One of the most critical pieces of the Distinction designation is the development of a portfolio that includes various items from their four years in the STEM program. Many graduates found that by working towards Distinction, they were more qualified for scholarships and overall, college applications took less time for them to complete.
Becoming a Distinction Graduate is completely voluntary, but STEM Center teachers encourage students to pursue this recognition because it pushes students toward purposeful goals. The key to this designation is for students to begin early by having valuable experiences that expand self-awareness, resulting in a portfolio that will trace student growth over their high school career. For more details on requirements for STEM Distinction, visit the Distinction Graduate tab of the Davie County High School STEM Center website.
What are some accomplishment of the STEM Center?
The overall growth of the program is one of the most obvious accomplishments. After just four years, the program is close to welcoming double the number of students that originally enrolled as ninth graders four years ago. This year nearly 200 students will be a part of the STEM Center and because of that growth,
the number of STEM faculty members has grown as well. Originally staffed
with just 11 teachers, the Center is now home to 22 team members.
In addition, the Davie High STEM Center has been recognized with State level accolades including being recently named a STEM School of Distinction, one of seven schools in North Carolina honored for their exemplary leadership and instruction in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. By being part of this level of recognition, the Davie High STEM Center is part of an elite group that represents the best in STEM education in North Carolina exemplifying outstanding leadership and learning that empower keen creative thinking, reasoning, and teamwork: the underpinnings of 21st century skills; in addition to implementing the essential STEM attributes needed to be successful in today’s society.
DavieLiFE is proud of the accomplishments of the Davie High School STEM Center and wishes both students and staff the very best for a successful school year!