by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
photos/video by SC Assoc. Publisher Chuck Larsen
Musical fruit, a remote-controlled airplane, hydraulics, bridges and an amusement park developed by Sanibel School students showcased the STEM program at an open house Wednesday, Nov. 17 in the school’s courtyard.
STEM integrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics and helps students investigate solutions and construct evidence-based explanations. Students expertly explained and demonstrated their projects as open house guests strolled by their table.
Sanibel School STEM Teacher Kelly Johnson said the program gives her students life skills and a place to shine. Nationwide, growth in STEM careers outpaces any other occupational category, according to the Florida Department of Education. STEM careers also offer more earning potential than most other fields.
“The world is moving towards technology and the STEM program gives kids the chance to use the technology that is at their fingertips,” said Jeff Muddell, a father of three and president of The Sanibel School Fund which fully supports STEM at The Sanibel School.
STEM can be found in some form at schools nationwide, but The Sanibel School has one of the more robust programs thanks to the generosity of the island community. “Sanibel is a generous community, which makes our school as special as the island,” said Muddell.
The Sanibel School is a small school with just 250 students, which means a small budget and requires the extra support provided by The Sanibel School Fund for much-needed programs such as STEM. “We would not have this wonderful program if it were not for the community’s support,” said Muddell.
STEM is open to all Sanibel students starting in first grade and taught once a week to elementary students, who are given an introduction to coding and engineering. It’s taught three times a week as an elective for middle school students. Johnson, who writes the school’s STEM curriculum, said projects change each school year based on student’s interests and aerospace – drones and airplanes – is this year’s focus.
“Students in the STEM program are self-motivated,” said Johnson. “I really just consider myself a facilitator.”
Anyone interested in learning more about how to support the STEM program through The Sanibel School Fund can email Muddell at firstname.lastname@example.org.