Thursday, March 5, 2015

FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead Expo showcases innovative learning

Fourth graders at Jewett Street Elementary School today showed off what they’re learning in an interactive demonstration of FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead. During lessons that apply math, language arts and science concepts, students develop an innovative solution to a current world problem, design, build, and program robots using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3 and other LEGO elements, and apply a set of values that incorporate teamwork, respect, and discovery.

FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead is enhancing science and math curriculum in Manchester like never before.

“We are raising the bar when it comes to learning opportunities in our schools,” said Mayor Ted Gatsas. “A program like FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead helps some of our youngest students meet 21st century expectations and get started on the road to creating a talented workforce for the many businesses and industry cities like Manchester offers.”

Jewett Street is one of three schools participating in FIRST® LEGO® League in the classroom this year. The others are Beech Street and Green Acres elementary schools. Four more schools will be added to the program next school year, and the city’s remaining seven elementary schools will join in 2016. Corporate contributions and grants from the Argosy Foundation, Autodesk, the Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation, and Texas Instruments cover the cost of the technology, including the LEGO kits, robots and computers.

The creation of FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead happened with support from FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an international not-for-profit public charity based in Manchester that motivates young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. FIRST has been encouraging young people's interest and participation in those subjects for more than 25 years, since it was founded by inventor Dean Kamen in 1989.

Another aspect of FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead is a visit to the SEE Science Center in Manchester. Every year, all 14 elementary schools will bring their fourth grade students on a field trip, at no cost to the school district. FIRST is paying for the transportation, while the SEE Science Center and Dean Kamen are underwriting the admission and program fees.

Fourth grade teacher Mrs. Tarbell explains to WMUR
the benefits of FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead
“We have a wonderful resource to introduce children to the idea that science and technology are relevant in the real world and everyday life,” said SEE Science Center executive director Douglas Heuser. “We are thrilled to provide that experience and ignite the excitement the students can bring back to their schools.” 

Equally important to the program’s success are the members of the business community who are giving their time and technical expertise every week. Mentors from SilverTech, Wasabi Ventures, Autodesk, DEKA, FIRST, NH High Tech Council, Fuentek, Robbins Farley, and Salesforce/Cloud for Good provide hand-on guidance to FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead in the classrooms.

At the expo, the teachers and students explained the innovative lessons that are sparking students’ interests in science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“Being actively engaged is one of the aspects I love about FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead,” said fourth grade teacher Karen O’Shaughnessy. “It’s been fun to watch the show their strengths in new ways by contributing to the team effort and helping each other succeed.”

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