STEM Education Content
FAST will become STEM certified at the elementary level within three years and at the middle school level within five years of operation. STEM certification is rapidly becoming a base layer, as opposed to a differentiator, in education as more schools work toward certification. The call to action the parents working to start FAST is the need for our children to be able to think critically, to develop deep and meaningful understanding of the world around them and how to create innovative solutions to problems.
Over the past two decades children have developed a model to replication concept of education. Whether it is a math problem or a Lego kit in a box, children are shown a model and expected to replicate it exactly as a rote process. In school children are given content information, tested to show they can replicate it accurately, but many lack the ability to think critically and cannot show meaningful understanding of the material in spite of high test scores. Without this understanding children cannot do something creative and innovative with the content. Focusing on STEM content only gets our children to the starting line. Creativity and innovation will get them into the race to win.
Since 1990 the scores among students taking the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking have declined significantly, particularly in the K-3rd age range. Children who lose the ability to be creative also lose the ability to be innovative, which is the key to success in the 21st century global economy.
Children today have lost the tolerance to fail and to iterate. In today’s world of instantaneous results, children expect instantaneous correct answers. In the Price of Privilege Dr. Levine describes how many children are unable to cope with even slight failure. To overcome this FAST will focus on a growth mindset to develop the habits of perseverance, intellectual curiosity, and creativity in our students.
The way FAST will accomplish this goal is three-fold. 1) FAST will incorporate Design Thinking into all facets of the school from each class a student attends to teacher development to administrative effectiveness. 2) FAST will add one hour each day to the school schedule, four days per week for a class in innovation for all grades, 3) FAST will have a capstone project for 8th graders lasting one year that will give each student the opportunity to demonstrate their innovation ability. Our differentiated math, science and literacy curriculum will support the goals in increasing critical thinking, deep understanding in content areas, creativity and innovation.