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What is STEAM Education?January 27, 2017
Classes at the Babcock Neighborhood School start in August 2017 and the students will be the first to benefit from a new education program designed to help them compete in the 21st Century.
The eco-focused Babcock Ranch development provides the ideal foundation for a student-centered education built on active learning, collaboration, and community. Indeed, these are the skills that will be most in demand in a global economy.
About Babcock Ranch, Florida
Situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to an extensive wildlife preserve, Babcock Ranch is an experiential learning classroom for students. What’s more, the community is focused on clean renewable energy anchored by the solar field that powers the town and homebuilding that’s certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition, offering lessons in ecological stewardship for students. The school itself will model stewardship for students as it strives to lessen its environmental footprint.
STEAM Education and STEM Education
At the heart of the Babcock Neighborhood School’s curriculum will be a green STEAM educational program. The letters stand for science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, but what does a STEAM education really mean?
Most people have probably heard of the initials STEM in education circles. That’s the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math and those are the subjects that have been widely promoted in U.S. schools in response to global competition for talent.
But educators and employers have come to realize that STEM education is not sufficient because it only challenges the left side of the brain. The arts boost the right side of the brain which is responsible for creativity. Both sides of the brain are required to help U.S. students be innovators and leaders. Hence: STEM with arts is STEAM.
Creating Babcock Neighborhood School
In early 2015 Kitson & Partners hired Collaborative Educational Network (CEN) to help articulate their vision for a free public neighborhood school and develop a green STEAM program. CEN is an educational consulting firm based in Tallahassee that has earned national recognition for expertise in the areas of governance, exceptional student education, curriculum and instructional strategies and operations. In addition, the school has also established a partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers to assist with the implementation of professional development and work with their College of Education to provide teacher and principal interns.
The Babcock Neighborhood School’s commitment to creating a sustainable environment focused on clean renewable resources is the foundation of its green STEAM curriculum, according to the application it filed with Charlotte County Public Schools.
A Day in the Life at Babcock Neighborhood School
For example, daily science instruction will incorporate hands-on activities and virtual labs. Mathematics will be integrated into all science instruction as well as taught as a separate subject. Technology will enhance instruction in all curriculum areas. Inquiry and problem-based learning will frame instruction and foster environmental responsibility.
Arts integration connects elements of curriculum across content fields and increases student learning, engagement, and motivation. Arts integration at the school will include using the arts as a resource for other disciplines such as investigating big ideas through the study of the arts; using the arts to interpret ideas or themes in other subjects; and understanding life-centered issues through a combination of the arts and other subjects.
By focusing on local landscape, history, culture and context, learning takes on specificity and moves from the abstract to the concrete, engaging students with their surroundings. The sustainability and conservation principles embraced by Babcock Ranch provide opportunities for hands-on, project based learning about nature, health, and renewable energy with a STEAM focus.
For more information and to apply, visit the Babcock Neighborhood School’s website at http://www.babcockneighborhoodschool.org/.
The following core values form the foundation of Babcock Neighborhood School’s student-focused green STEAM program:
Environmental Responsibility: We strive to create future stewards of the land. Our place-based learning curriculum allows students to develop a deep connection with the environment, encouraging them to participate in unstructured play and to explore their natural surroundings.
Maximizing Potential: We believe every student should realize their full potential. Our teachers seek to discover and nurture a child’s natural interests, drawing out their talents and cultivating their desire to learn. Our interactive, inspiring and healthy environment with its access to nature, art and music, nutritious meals, physical activity, and technology encourages students to celebrate the daily joy of learning.
Lifelong Learning: We strive to nurture a lifelong love of learning in our students, our teachers and our staff. Our affiliation with local institutions of higher learning bolsters our efforts to ensure that we offer students and teachers the most innovative educational methods and theories. As supporters of “K through Gray” education, we know it is never too early or too late to learn something new and to create positive impact in the world.
Sustainability: We believe in creating a sustainable environment. Our community is focused on clean renewable energy strategies including Florida Green Building Coalition certified community, homes, and buildings and a 75-megawatt solar farm. This will be a lesson in stewardship for students, and a step toward lessening our environmental footprint.
Health and Wellness: We believe in offering students a healthy learning environment. Our classroom design promotes activity and movement, our meals encourage proper nutrition, and our curriculum encourages outdoor play and physical activity.
Diversity: We recognize the unique personalities and learning styles of each of our students. Our school culture celebrates and respects differences, while acknowledging the commonalities that bind us together as a community.
Source: Babcock Ranch School application to Charlotte County Public Schools, August 2016