Full STEAM ahead: Hays CISD adopts new program integrations

Initiatives meant to incorporate art and design into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs is underway and Hays CISD campuses are preparing to meet those changes.

STEM is an educational movement that began in the Rhode Island School of Design. It is not considered as one program or specific initiative, but rather an inclusive variety of programming options.

Yarda Leflet, Hays CISD’s executive director of learning and teachers, said Hays CISD programs currently weigh more on STEM, which began as Career Technology and Education (CTE) courses offered at Carpenter Hill and Pfluger Elementary. Both of those initial STEM programs have gained a large amount of staff, parent and community support, Leflet said. Hays CISD plans to migrate to STEAM, which would integrate art and design into the fold.

According to proponents of STEAM, art and design are set to transform our economy in the 21st century as science and technology have in the last century.

Leflet said STEAM brings creativity forward and allows teachers to foster creative thinking in students while also problem solving real-world solutions they’re working on.

“The need for expansion of both programs, as well as adding additional programming, is something we have been working on intensely for the past year.”

She added that as the community has grown, the district has slowly began adjusting to include STEAM.

“In 2017-2018, you will see the start of expansion efforts with more in years to come,” Leflet said.

In 2016, the Hays CISD Board of Trustees approved a coordinator for the STEAM elementary science position.

“We are fortunate in Hays CISD to have a board of trustees that strongly support STEAM-based education,” said Leflet. “The addition of this position has allowed us to provide additional teacher support, evaluate current programming and work with teachers on programming options for the future.”

STEAM’s programming options vary in schools across the county as one program may not have the same effectiveness in one school as in another.

An example of such programming is “Project Lead the Way: Launch”, which is set to be implemented into Elm Grove Elementary for the 2017-2018 school year.

According to the project statement, Launch is a program that “empowers students to adopt a design thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects and problems the build upon each other and relate to the world around them.”

Several teachers in the district have also implemented STEAM based projects and lessons into their daily instruction, while others have requested assistance in implementing STEAM-based lessons in the 2017-2018 school year.

“We are also fortunate to have teachers who are willing to take risks regarding STEAM-based education in their classrooms,” said Leflet. “Our goal is to implement the best programming to meet the needs of the students and community at each school.”

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