Transporting STEAM To Rural Georgia Students With Atlanta's STE(A)M Truck
That was my totally honest reaction when I received a follow-up email to our recent visit from STE(A)M (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) Truck.
Last summer, when I attended the annual science conference at our RESA, I had no idea the impact one of those breakout sessions could make on my students. I, along with my sister, another science educator, loved the concept that STE(A)M Truck offered, but honestly, I didn’t know that our small rural South Georgia school would be able to afford to bring the organization down from Atlanta.
I never should have underestimated my students.
During our annual fall fundraiser, our students raised enough money to be able to pay for their spring field trip, along with the money for STE(A)M Truck to come from Atlanta. Most “extra” activities are paid for by fundraisers – fundraisers that our students do. When I learned we had enough for them to come and contacted STE(A)M Truck, I was so excited to organize the visit for our students.
You see, we have many students who do not leave Worth County for a college or career experience, and even some who have not left the state at all. Don’t get me wrong – I love my town. I chose to stay in Worth County for my career in education, teaching in the same school where I attended middle school. I have had so many educators here who have been huge influences on my life, including my current team teacher, and I wanted the opportunity to give back to my community as so many have for me.
Field trips and new experiences are a vital component of the education of our students. Through experiences like STE(A)M Truck, many of our students were able to talk with adults, who talked with our students about their future ambitions and goals, and encouraged them on ways to achieve those goals. While they talked, they worked. They were able to use saws, drills, and soldering irons, deconstruct old electronics to make something new, and use critical thinking skills to complete life size logic puzzles. The engagement level of our students was extremely high during the experience, and many left with new ideas on future careers. Facilitators also worked with teachers on ways to implement the concepts in our classrooms for a truly authentic educational experience.
I was already on such a high after having such an amazing day of teaching…and then I received an email from the organization. They were so impressed with our students’ goals and fundraising skills (they have never had students raise the money for this program before), and realized how vital this program is to rural schools. We will be working in conjunction with them to promote a rural extension to their program.
Programs like STEAM Truck are a wonderful addition to the great things our gifted/accelerated teachers are doing at WCMS. Our students are using the skills they learn through STEAM for innovative projects. Some of these include Investigation Discovery, in which they collected evidence from a “crime scene” and solved the crime with the assistance of local law enforcement. We also have our school gardens, where they are growing crops that can be used for food. Our project-based learning units have also affected students, since they had the chance to build roller coasters or use statistics to develop products to keep people safe from tornadoes.
This is what teaching is all about; education is not only teaching our students about content areas and standards, but how to solve problems, how to be creative, and how to be successful people!