GUEST VIDEO: STEM TEACHING AND LEARNING AT MARTIN SORTUN ELEMENTARY
One of the best ways to develop top-quality STEM teaching and learning programs is to engage with educators and students who have been doing the work for quite some time. That’s why we’re proud to feature this guest video from Martin Sortun Elementary in Kent, a school that’s been on an almost decade-long journey to becoming a traditional public elementary school that also does STEM well.
Last school year, Martin Sortun Elementary hosted a STEM Visitation Day, where educators from other schools could visit classrooms in Martin Sortun and learn from their journey towards teaching STEM. Martin Sortun does this work as part of being an STEM Lighthouse School, a school identified by OSPI as one that holds the most potential for growing, expanding, and spreading STEM education programs across Washington state.
“All of us only ever see the tip of an iceberg of another person or organization’s efforts to achieve a goal and some level of success that goes with that endeavor. Unless we’re closely related to that person or organization, we don’t witness the total number of attempts, long hours without result, and other setbacks along the way,” said Doug Ferguson, a former STEM Integration Specialist at Martin Sortun and current Senior Learning Designer at AVID.
Doug further explained that the Visitation Day allowed Martin Sortun’s teachers to engage with other educators to discuss the challenges and opportunities that rest within integrating STEM activities, offer robotics at the elementary level, and explore engineering with cardboard.
“Despite skepticism, our staff was steadfast and maintained a dedication to quality, standards-based education with the primary focus on kids and student learning. If you keep kids in mind as you work towards your own program goals, the resulting vision will carry you through the work,” said Doug.
If you want to know more about Martin Sortun’s work, check out the video! Special thanks to the Kent Schools Foundation for sponsorship of the program and Pixel Boheh Productions for producing the video.
And if you’d like more resources on how to improve STEM teaching and learning in your own school, check out this list of resources curated by Doug.
Washington Roundtable: network of Washington state leaders and organizations dedicated to improving public education in regard to college and career readiness across the state of Washington.
Engineering is Elementary: research-based developer and advocate of K-8 engineering educational curriculum and corresponding professional development.
BirdNote.org: an independent media producer whose daily stories are broadcast in more than 400 public radio markets, this organization has grown into a force unto itself as well as a powerful advocate of STEM education via a better understanding of birds and the roles they play in the environment, ecosystem, and our lives.
WA OSPI STEM Lighthouse Program: this program selects applications and then interviews final round applicants via in-depth site visits to determine schools, staff, and programs that hold the most potential for growing, expanding, and spreading STEM education programs across Washington state.