STEM: Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics


Dr. Justin Luttrell
Director of STEM and Blended Learning

STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are the four general subjects, or disciplines, that integrate into a singular, interdisciplinary program that offers students instruction and teaching methods through project, problem, and phenomenon-based applications. 

STEM is an important initiative for Pulaski County Special School District for two reasons.

  1. SOCIETAL ADVANCEMENT: Nearly every advancement made within our global society has roots in STEM. To continue scientific and technological advancements that better our world, STEM programs are essential for our students to experience. This academic focus should ultimately foster these experiences in such a way that our students master foundational STEM understanding, equipping them for success in both college and career.

  2. SOFT SKILL ENHANCEMENT: STEM principles, at their core, require soft skills that are most desirable for a continuing society: collaboration, perseverance, critical thinking and analytics, and the spirit of invention. 

In addition to these academic components of a successful STEM program, an important focus within PCSSD is equity. For STEM, this means increased access and success within our STEM programs, particularly for traditionally underrepresented student populations. By closing the opportunity gap in our STEM programs, PCSSD seeks to increase our student performance in STEM categories on state and national tests across all populations. 

STEM opportunities will begin at the elementary school level, but will be enhanced for secondary students. In middle school, students will continue with programs like EAST, robotics, and pre-engineering that were introduced in elementary school. Middle school students will also learn specific reading strategies by breaking down scientific language through roots, prefixes, suffixes, and the science behind how (and why) these content-specific words were formed in the English language. 

As students advance to high school, PCSSD plans to incorporate many of the foundational principles as middle schools with a keen focus on our computer science and career and technical education programs in addition to our math and science offerings.

Students will work collaboratively with each other to solve problems, and persevere through challenges. Students will learn to use critical thinking skills to analyze situations and circumstances and then apply those skills to offer real-world solutions. This will be seen through academic experiences such as science experiments, mathematical conquests, computer programming, robotics competitions, career tech exploration, blended learning opportunities using state of the art technology, and even reading strategies. 

One of the first things many educators will tell you when it comes to STEM is that students struggle to read the materials most often associated with STEM disciplines. To support our teachers in this endeavour, the PCSSD Learning Services department created a monthly STEM challenge initiative in our elementary schools called “STEM is LIT!”

Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, students will have six monthly experiences where a book is read to students and then a STEM challenge is offered. These challenges will require students to use their imagination to create, problem-solve to engineer, look at their daily lives to discover mathematical concepts all around them, and utilize the scientific method to hypothesize and reflect on certain scientific phenomena.