Welcome to Northside Elementary School in Houston County, the first GaDOE certified STEM school in middle Georgia. Northside (NES) is a Title I school in which 100% of our students qualify for free breakfast and lunch. Yet NES is also one of Georgia’s Rewards Schools for making significant academic growth. Administrators, teachers and parents at NES attribute that growth to our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiative.
You might ask, “Why STEM?” Our neighborhood has high rates of unemployment and under employment. At Northside, our goal is to break the cycle of generational poverty and to prepare our students to successfully enter the 21st Century work force. We see STEM as a path to achieve that goal, so 100% of our students are involved in STEM activities.
At Northside, STEM begins in Pre-K and kindergarten where the engineering design process is used. Our kindergarten designs the most efficient sleigh for Santa to slide down the hill as he delivers new toys to ‘Whoville’ after the Grinch took all their toys. Bridges are built to keep the Three Billy Goats Gruff safe from the mean and nasty Troll; they even design traps to catch a Leprechaun.
Since computer related skills are necessary for success in most 21st Century professions, coding and robotics begin in Kindergarten. By 4th and 5th grades, our students are programming using Floors, BLOXELS and Alice. These Northside programmers often do not have a computer at home and yet they can now visualize a computer-based occupation in their futures.