School officials: summer STEM program a success

By Angie Hilsman | Jul 29, 2017
Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira

Several student-built cardboard canoes may have disintegrated in Apponagansett Bay, but the lessons they learned while building them were worth it, officials said.

The public school's Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) program kicked off this year, with the goal of getting kids more involved in science, technology, engineering, and math over the summer months.

"The goal is really to do STEM opportunities and project-based learning with hands on activities," said Director of Teaching and Learning Tracy Oliveira. "The feedback we got was tremendously positive."

During the three, weeklong sessions, students designed canoes out of cardboard, built Lego robotics, practiced acting and auditioning, gained familiarity with software programming, and even wrote college entry essays.

Oliveira said the summer program was an extension of the elementary schools' iStem clubs, through which students also worked on STEM activities. Staff were asked if they had a STEM interest or hobby they wanted to share, which is what inspired the workshops, she explained.

"Students were loving it. They were connecting with teachers. They were learning things, and they were having fun," said Oliveira.

She said that the only obstacle was enrollment. While the school-year clubs boasted 120 students, the summer program only received about 35 signups, Oliveira said. The administration will assess the enrollment with surveys it has sent to parents.

Oliveira said the summer workshops fit into Superintendent Bonny Gifford's objectives of enhancing STEM learning and aligning the curriculum throughout the grade levels.

"It was nice to see that hierarchy in learning," she said, explaining that both younger students in the legos design and older ones in the canoe design were applying the same problem solving skills, but at more advanced levels in the latter.

(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
(Courtesy of: Tracy Oliveira)
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