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Cultivating Creativity and Inspiring Innovation

By Chris Sedgwick

Children are inherently curious, imaginative, and creative. They yearn to explore their environment and wonder in awe at the mysteries of the natural world. Every child routinely envisions fantastical lands, which push the boundaries of the physical rules that govern our reality. Given time, space, and the most basic supplies, a child can conjure up a new game or construct an intricate world to call their own for the afternoon.  All of the core skills needed for children to grow into professionals seeking scientific breakthroughs and cutting-edge engineering feats are innately present from their earliest stages of development.

But why then is there a shortage of STEM professionals in the American workforce?  The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology stated, “economic projections point to a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade if the country is to retain its historical preeminence in science and technology.”

What happens between early childhood and the completion of school that leads so many students astray from the inquisitive, inventive, and innovative mindsets of their youth? How then can families and schools partner to cultivate an attitude of discovery and design?

A welcome trend at many forward-thinking schools is to construct multi-use spaces, equipped with a myriad of creative and technical tools and materials.  Opportunities for open-ended exploration are then woven into busy and structured schedules.  Setting aside an afternoon, or even an hour, for tinkering with a set of k’Nex or  inventive play with a littleBits kit can reawaken a spirit of playful ingenuity that can lead to a lifetime of study.

At St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, the annual STEM Expo showcases the surprising cleverness of young minds.  Critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills are put to the test as students’ collaborative work is critiqued by STEM professionals in our community.  Fifth Grade students will share their use of design thinking to build empathy with 3 year olds as they design and construct age appropriate toys.  Sixth Grade students describe their many failures as they seek success with their Rube Goldberg Machines.  Seventh Grade students defend their design choices for re-imagined campus spaces digitally created using Sketchup.  Students are given the freedom to take their projects in new directions and learn new ways without being taught, but rather by exploring their own creations and initiating an adventure of their own.

 

Come to our STEM Expo Open House on January 26 at 9:00 am and see the exciting projects from students in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th Grade. The Open House will begin in the Chalstrom Parish House located at 1031 S. Carrollton Avenue. Registration is required to attend our Open House at the following link:

Register to Attend an Open House

For more information, call Lisa Witter, Director of Advancement, Enrollment & Financial Aid at (504) 866-6553.

 

Chris Sedgwick is a science educator who has worked in the field of education since 2003.  He earned a a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Emory University and a M.A.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Washington.  He is the Dean of Student Life and Science Department Chair at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. He and his wife, Michelle, have a daughter, Emory.

Call for STEM Expo Consultants

On Friday, January 26 St. Andrew’s Episcopal School will hold its 6th Annual STEM Expo. The STEM Expo will once again showcase student work in grades PK-8 in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. We will once again hold a celebration of our Middle School students’ wonderful work. Therefore, this year we will not be seeking judges, but are seeking “STEM Consultants” to view, discuss, and offer feedback on the various projects. Below you will find a brief description of the projects and the times when students will be available for feedback. We are hoping for 2-5 “STEM Consultants” per grade level.

  • 5th Grade – Using Design Thinking to Prototype Developmentally Appropriate Toys for 3 Year Olds (8:15 – 9:20 / 6 groups)
  • 6th Grade – Collaborative Rube Goldberg Machine (8:15 – 9:20 / 1 large collaboration with 6 group segments)
  • 7th Grade – Using Design Thinking to Illustrate and Prototype New Educational Spaces at St. Andrew’s (8:15 – 9:20 / 4 group projects)
  • 8th Grade – Computer Programming (8:15 – 9:55 / 3 group projects)

If you are interested in being a “STEM Consultant” please contact Chris Sedgwick, St. Andrew’s Science Department Chair, at your nearest convenience.

St. Andrew’s Performs at the Windsor Court

Congratulations to our students on a lovely, musical, holiday performance this week at the Windsor Court Hotel!

Teddy Bear Christmas 2017

This week our Kinderbears and Rainbow Fish celebrated together with a Teddy Bear Christmas in the Kindergarten classroom.  It was a special treat to see the excitement of both our Kinderbears and Rainbow Fish.  The Kinderbears were great leaders/role models and the Rainbow Fish were delighted to be Kinderbears for a morning.  We read The Night Before Christmas, created a stuffed teddy bear, and enjoyed teddy bear cookies and milk with our friends.