STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Explorations is a year-long learning program designed to deepen core competencies in science, technology, engineering and math for 5th grade urban and suburban school students and their teachers.  STEM Explorations activities strengthens core competences among teaching staff, who play an integral role in the program and receive professional development through support of virtual in-class programming throughout the year.  The program aligns with the identified Math Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.   STEM Explorations is an interdistrict cooperative grant program funded by the CT State Department of Education.  The two major goals of interdistrict cooperative grant programs are to: (1) increase student achievement and (2) reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation.

STEM Explorations is a multi-district cohort of 100 students: two urban classrooms are paired with two suburban classrooms.  The 16-17 participating classroom teams are: Conte-West Hills Magnet School (New Haven) and Spring Glen School (Hamden), and ACES Wintergreen Interdistrict Magnet School (Hamden) with Mead School (Ansonia).  Each team will meet in-person six times throughout the year for intensive and fun days of STEM learning.  In between face to face gatherings, students solve and write about STEM problems in virtual sessions via Google applications, video-conferencing and blogging with their peer partners.

STEM Explorations partners with several strong science, technology, engineering and math resources to provide integrated and sequentially-paced STEM instruction.  The first two days of programming take place at the Eli Whitney Museum, where students learn about light and sound waves, cadences and rhythms. They learn about the logic of Leonardo's mind at work as he invented the first modern robot - an automatic drummer whose rhythms can be reprogrammed flexibly and whose tempos adjust automatically, and build their own Robot Drum and Camera Obscura.  In addition to fun ‘getting-to-know-you’ diversity activities at each session, students participate in two interactive math lessons involving patterns, angles, geometry and programming applications, provided by an experienced math educator and coach.

The second two days of STEM programming take place at each of the four schools, allowing students to learn more about their partners’ communities.  Mad Science consultants will conduct half of these sessions, providing hands-on STEM activities within small groups.  The other half of the sessions will be facilitated by a certified Common Sense Digital Citizenship Technology Consultant.  As the first Common Sense Digital Citizenship Certified district in the state of Connecticut, ACES is proud to prepare students to use technology safely and responsibly, providing them unlimited opportunities to maximize and personalize their learning.

Field trips to the Peabody Museum and the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven will be exciting learning opportunities for students to see STEM applications in the real world.  A culminating event for families, school staff and community partners will be planned for the spring, which will feature student presentations of their STEM activities throughout the year.

For further information about the ACES STEM Explorations program, contact Barbara Green, Program Coordinator at bgreen@aces.org or 203 498-6848.