Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ford STEM Visit

STEM in action at Ford ES

What a treat to see real word, hands on project based learning in action at Ford Elementary.  Mrs. Cauffiel, an enthusiastic, dedicated STEM teacher, shared Ford's STEM certification journey. Evolving from (just to name a very few) the learning commons (area in the media center), engineering in elementary, organization of parent volunteers, to the amazing display of 5th grade hydroponics display, no stone was left unturned in this STEM rollout.

Did you know for every student that has a STEM background they have four jobs to choose from and for those that have no STEM background are competing with three others for the same job.

Wow!  Does that land on you like it does me?  Spiraling with questions.  How can we give our students the competitive edge?  What would adding the engineering design process to my classroom projects look like?  How can I leverage the P21 resources to engage my students? What prompts sustained inquiry?  How can I foster inquiry? Where would I start with authentic real word problem solving in my classroom?  How could Project Based Learning promote lifelong learning?  A culture of inquiry and innovation.

A few things really "stuck" with me on the visit.  STEM focus days. At the end of each quarter, students participate in STEM related activities.  What a wonderful time to bring in field experts. In person, google hangouts, or skype.  Learning spaces redefined with "mediascapes",which reminded me of Starbucks. Screaming communication and collaboration.  Ford's media center is called the Learning Commons. Rethinking school culture.  Creating a 21st Century Learning mindset.

The project based learning/STEM projects were carefully design and executed.  The one pictured below is the Hydroponics Project designed by the 5th grade class, under the leadership of the knowledgeable Mrs. Cauffiel.  And it does't end there, one grade hatched chicken eggs and with the help of the environmental coordinator designed a chicken coop.  Another grade level rescued a habitat.

If you are in the area, a STEM Tour should be on your list for sure.  Contact Mrs. Cauffiel for more information.


  1. Thank you Nisa!! It was such a pleasure to welcome you to Ford Elementary. I'm so proud to work at such an amazing school, but I'm only one of a remarkable group of teachers and staff members who go above and beyond EVERY DAY to make it such an incredible place for students to learn. Our environmental projects are led by Catherine Padgett, who has spent more than 20 years building a nationally recognized environmental education program. She led our fifth grade team in the implementation of our hydroponics/aquaponics projects. Also, a big kudos to Shirley Trammell, our media specialist, who was instrumental in the transformation of our media center to a learning commons. Our chicken hatching project was led by our fabulous 4th grade teacher Bram Micklow, who did an outstanding job at not only raising chickens, but an incredible group of students!! A school like Ford is the result of MANY people working together to do what is best for kids!! I'm so blessed to be just a small part of such a phenomenal school.

  2. Wonderful, thank you Colleen. It takes a village and I certainly remember you mentioning the dedicated teams of educators you work with at Ford. It is truly a blessing to work elbow to elbow with such outstanding educators.