Representatives from Independence Elementary STEM in Big Lake recently attended the (ITEEA) International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) national conference, where they were presented with the ITEEA STEM School of Excellence honor.
The school was previously named a winner of the prestigious national award in February, after first going through a rigorous application process. According to the ITEEA website, the STEM School of Excellence designation is meant to “officially recognize those schools whose teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders are providing a meaningful STEM education experience for students.”
In addition to receiving the award, school STEM leaders also participated in numerous professional learning opportunities during the 2-day conference, which was held on April 13th and 14th in Minneapolis. They attended speakers and workshops related to various areas of STEM education, and as a School of Excellence, they even had the chance to showcase the STEM initiatives happening at Independence Elementary STEM by manning a table that other schools could learn from.
STEM Integrationists and school administration brought back many ideas from the conference regarding how to continue to enhance the STEM programming within the school.
“My huge takeaway from the conference is that what we are doing at Independence Elementary STEM is pretty amazing,” said Principal Jona Deaval. "Many things that other schools have been working to do for years, like teaching communication and collaboration and integrating the 4Cs, the Engineering Design Process, and STEM throughout all classes, we are already implementing and are doing it well!”
Since becoming an official STEM school in September 2019, Independence Elementary STEM has been committed to making learning more engaging through a STEM-driven curriculum. In addition to specific STEM-focused classes, STEM practices are integrated within all content areas across all classes. Students regularly engage in learning that follows the Engineering Design Process and utilizes the 4Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking.