Making sense of math, science, and engineering is the goal of the statewide push for enhanced STEM education.
At Boone Middle School, Ms. Jayce Carter teaches STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as an exploratory class for all students in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. It gives the second-year teacher a unique opportunity to interact with every student in the school at some point in time.
“I have every sixth, seventh and eighth grader in the building,” she says.
The STEM classes are one of four exploratory classes that students rotate through each year. (The other exploratories include art, industrial technology and computer.)
An Oskaloosa native, Carter is a 2013 graduate of Central College in Pella with a degree in Elementary Education and a middle school endorsement in math, science, and social studies.
She became interested in the STEM program while on a student learning experience of her own and then student taught in a STEM classroom in Pella, as well as in a conventional fifth grade classroom in Knoxville.
Carter says STEM takes traditional subjects such as math and science, bridges them with engineering, and then shows students how they come together in practical applications.
“My class is designed to be project learning and help students see the connections in those subjects,” she says. “It’s all hands-on learning, student-centered learning.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of STEM for Carter is seeing how kids put the knowledge to work for themselves.
“I love watching them do their projects and watching them learn on their own,” she says. “I’m a facilitator, a guide. I can help them, but just watching them create their own learning is my favorite part of the day.”
The projects include such things as building a three-feet, marble roller coasters out of paper in the seventh grade classes and doing some 3-D modeling on computer with the eighth graders.
STEM seeks not to prepare kids in any one topic, but to prepare them for careers not yet imagined.
“We want to prepare students for what’s not even invented yet,” she notes.
Carter also serves as coach for the First Technology Challenge Robotics Club for seventh and graders. She enjoys working with the kids on a more informal basis and getting to know them.
“I really enjoy it,” she says.
What do you like best about Ms. Carter?