Altoona Area School District recognized the impact STEM Education has had on its students’ growth and achievement. During the 2018 – 2019 school year, the district STEM committee, made up of grade level teachers, wrote and trained their peers on STEM initiatives that are to be completed each marking period throughout the year. The “STEM Days” focused on bridging the 4C's in STEM: Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration with our current Pennsylvania Core Standards. The STEM activities start by giving teams a challenge. They work together to design a solution to the task. Next, the group will gather their materials and test their ideas. Students are given the chance to change their designs throughout the process in order to complete the challenge. The STEM Days provide engaging and meaningful tasks that challenge our students to use the 4 C’s while having a fun time working together.
K'Nex - STEM Design Challenge Set
Intermediate Unit 8 offers a STEM Based challenge each year to students in grades 4-8 using K’Nex sets. This competition focuses on the 4 C’s of STEM and is a great way to have students build upon the STEM initiatives they learn in school. Judges send the teams a challenge, for example “Create the tallest structure that can hold 10 encyclopedias stacked on top of each the using the least amount of K’Nex pieces.” The students meet before and after school to construct a prototype from K’Nex pieces of various shapes and sizes. After the team builds their design, they must deconstruct the creation and rebuild it during the competition. They are now tasked with designing blue prints to follow while reconstructing. During the competition, the teams will present their structure, blueprints, and a brief power point of their experience. It is essential for students to use their knowledge of writing, mathematics, and technology. This event is held every year and is a favorite among the students.