Global STEM Challenges Program

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

FAQ

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. There are many programs around the country that use the label of "STEM", which can be applied to any of these categories. Our program focuses on the integration of these different areas and ways of thinking.

How is the Global STEM Challenges Program different than other STEM programs?

We know that the real world is not set into finite subjects and feel that students learn best when they can make deep meaning from the interactions between different areas of knowledge. For example, the natural world can be understood through biology, chemistry, and physics, but these science subjects don't work in isolation of one another. We also know that students will develop meaningful understanding and applications when there is an interaction between the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We provide students with meaningful learning experiences that derive from the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenges.

How does the Global STEM Challenges program prepare students for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program?

The GSCP at Edison High School revolves around problem solving, developing critical thinking skills, communication skills, and creative thinking. With the reflection on the learning experiences, students grow in their metacognitive abilities, preparing them for the work of IB classes. Whether students participate in the full IB Diploma Program or work towards IB Certificates, students develop the attributes of the IB Learner Profile while also engaging in challenging content and skill development.

How does this program compare to a traditional class?

This program is designed as an alternative learning experience to a traditional learning environment. This program is not designed for passive learners. Students who find the most success are those who want to ask questions and are driven to develop knowledge and understanding instead of memorizing facts. Students are engaged in 4 1/2 hours of work, geared towards designing and testing solutions to authentic problems. Creating new solutions is beyond what most students have experienced in school, so this program has a learning curve, but students who continue to work and reflect on their learning find great success.

We are often asked about grades and how these students will be compared to their counterparts who are in more traditional classes. We find that students who enter our program follow the trend that most freshmen do - finding challenge in the high school setting as compared to their experiences in middle school. We also expect students to create solutions to problems, which requires a higher cognitive load than students have traditionally been asked to do at this age. We have found that all of our students are capable of reaching these higher levels.

How well will the GSCP prepare my student for college?

We create learning experiences for students so that they can more successfully learn the skills that will develop them as life-long learners. Students will develop skills that will help ensure their success when they get to college.

Our focus has been supported by the multitude of colleges and universities that creating similar programs for their students. Here is a link to a list of colleges and universities that have made commitments that have a similar focus in both the content, learning experiences, and instructional practices that we employ.

When you student applies to colleges and universities, a memorandum will be included in their application packet to describe our program and the learning experiences they had. We will also be working with the colleges and universities throughout the students' enrollment in our program, helping to bridge the student experiences with those they will have in college.

Common Pitfalls

1. Managing one's time.

This is skill that we ALL continue to improve - adults and younger students alike. Students must find a system to help them stay organized with tasks to complete for themselves and for their teammates. These tasks can be to practice content, practice skills, organize materials, etc. Getting in the practice of writing these tasks in a dedicated place will help students stay focused on the larger task they must complete.

An obstacle that many students face whether they are in our program or not, is completing work on time. Students will have many things to balance in this program. Working diligently to stay on deadlines, or even a little ahead of the deadlines is key. Once students start to play "catch-up" with the content or skills, they may find themselves perpetually behind. The skills and content build upon themselves. Practicing the content and skills for true mastery is critical to success.

2. Failing to keep the goals in mind.

This pitfall can go hand-in-hand with the time management one. Students often become overwhelmed with their academic work, their extracurricular activities, and socializing. All of these types of activities are important for their growth as well-rounded individuals. However, when students fail to recognize the goal of the work, students can often take "shortcuts" in their learning. Students sometimes feel that they already know a concept or idea and fail to recognize that they may have been taught some basic concepts that they will learn to apply to a larger extent. Failing to acknowledge that the true goal of this experience is to learn new ideas, new skills, and new ways to learn and apply that knowledge works against finding success.

3. Believing that you already have mastery of the content or skills.

The GSCP at Edison High School revolves around problem solving, developing critical thinking skills, communication skills, and creative thinking. With the reflection on the learning experiences, students grow in their metacognitive abilities, preparing them for the work of IB classes. Whether students participate in the full IB Diploma Program or work towards IB Certificates, students develop the attributes of the IB Learner Profile while also engaging in challenges content and skill development.

4. Believing that intelligence is fixed and that it isn't a reflection of hard work and mastery.

This program is designed as an alternative learning experience to a traditional learning environment. This program is not designed for passive learners. Students who find the most success are those who want to ask questions and are driven to develop knowledge and understanding instead of memorizing facts. Students are engaged in 4 1/2 hours of work, geared towards designing and testing solutions to authentic problems. Creating new solutions is beyond what most students have experienced in school, so this program has a learning curve, but students who continue to work and reflect on their learning find great success.

We are often asked about grades and how these students will be compared to their counterparts who are in more traditional classes. We find that students who enter our program follow the trend that most freshmen do - finding challenge in the high school setting as compared to their experiences in middle school. We also expect students to create solutions to problems, which requires a higher cognitive load than students have traditionally been asked to do at this age. We have found that all of our students are capable of reaching these higher levels.

5. Learning is easy.; Learning is a linear process; All things that count can be measured.

We know and understand that when we learn something new, mental hard-work and reflection are often required.