DPS celebrates STEM Week with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics across the district

Munger students create “Marshmallow Towers” in honor of Michigan STEM Awareness Week 

Detroit Public Schools students across the district are enjoying a rigorous curriculum integrated with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects to strengthen DPS’ overall academic program and prepare students for 21st Century careers like medical scientists, engineers, biochemists, pilots and more.

Senate Resolution No. 23, approved in early March, proclaims March 24-30, 2013, as Michigan STEM Awareness Week. As stated in the resolution, “An education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is critical to our children’s future and the continued growth and prosperity of Michigan.”

The resolution aims to inspire STEM instruction at an early age and increase awareness of STEM education and STEM-related careers to advance Michigan’s workforce.

Munger students create “Marshmallow Towers” 

On Wednesday, March 27, students in teacher Sandra de Garcia’s third-grade class at Munger Elementary-Middle School engaged in a highly visual, hands-on lesson for STEM week on structural design that incorporated the concepts of stability, engineering, problem-solving, geometric design and risk taking.

Students gained an understanding of the science behind how to build a strong structure through the creation of Marshmallow Towers, built by the students using nothing more than marshmallows and toothpicks.

“Have fun and be creative,” de Garcia said to the students.”You are only limited by your imagination.”

The lesson also incorporated the concepts of static loads (that do not change) and dynamic loads (that change).  Students made use of technology to understand how structures are designed, viewing examples projected on a large screen using an LCD projector.

Students also explored problem-solving by designing and engineering their own marshmallow tower using their imagination and incorporating math and geometry concepts by learning how to make a three-dimensional and free-standing structure.

After the students completed their towers, de Garcia went around the classroom to examine each one to analyze creativity, if they could stand on their own and to have the students to describe the structures using STEM concepts.

Third and fourth graders at Munger also created a Robo Exhibition in the school’s library. The students were charged with making robots using only recycled materials and different sizes of plastic bottles to analyze capacity.

STEM-related programs offered to DPS students:

Promoting educational excellence not only during school hours, but also at home, all students in grades 6-12 have access to Netbook computers, and students in grades 8-12 enjoy take-home Netbooks. Every teacher also has a Netbook for classroom and home use, and new Apple MacBooks, iMac computers, iPad tablets and SmartBoards are available in most classrooms.

Across Detroit Public Schools, extended time in Mathematics instruction is in place for all K-8 students, ninth-graders are receiving double doses of Algebra, and there has been an increase in the number of AP mathematics courses for high school students.

Strong partnerships with organizations such as the Cranbrook Institute of Science, DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program), the PNC Bank Grow Up Great Program and many others offer students hands-on learning experiences in STEM-related fields outside of the classroom to complement a rigorous academic curriculum.

Airplanes gliding across the sky above the Detroit River could be flown by one of our very own DPS student pilots from Davis Aerospace Technical High School. The rigorous program at Davis Aerospace prepares students for higher education while developing technical skills for a career in aviation. Many students have completed solo flight training in a Cessna aircraft and are now working on earning their Private Pilot License.

Students of all grade levels also enjoy participating in programs such as SEEK (Summer Engineering Experience for Kids) camp, “You be the Chemist” Detroit regional science competition, annual Future City Competition, Chess leagues, Academic Games, Robotics teams, the Society of Automotive Engineers’ A Word in Motion (AWIM) program, and much more.

More about our STEM Programs:

  • This year marked the second year of an annual Alternative Spring Break tradition with Michigan Technological University’s NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) chapter providing engineering information and activities to over 2,000 students.
  • Through the Detroit School Garden Collaborative, school gardens are being installed to provide connections with both nutrition and science.
  • DPS Go Green Challenge, where schools across the district are taking on the challenge to reduce their energy costs and share in the savings through engaging students, faculty and staff in best-practice energy management as part of the district’s comprehensive Sustainability Management Plan.
  • An ongoing participation in “A World in Motion” (AWIM) for 3rd and 5th graders, which is a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) competition that is sponsored by General Motors, as well as being a national pilot site for the new K-2 AWIM program.
  • An all-girls competitive Robotics Team for high school students and Lego League for middle school students at the Detroit International Academy for Young Women.
  • Hundreds of DPS K-12 students participate in Chess Leagues, Academic Games™, and Robotics. These programs are currently operating in over 30 DPS schools.
  • Participation in the annual First Robotics Competition by several DPS schools.
  • A ground-breaking educational partnership with Cranbrook Institute of Science offering students in-depth, hands-on exposure to science and technology, professional development for DPS faculty, and family engagement.
  • A partnership with PNC through the Grow Up Great early childhood education program to provide hundreds of DPS students with a foundation in science and the arts.
  • Participation in the SEEK (Summer Engineering Experience for Kids) Camp,where students in grades 3-5 engage in hands-on learning through a three-week summer camp coordinated by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
  • Mini-grants provided to DPS teachers through the Detroit Mathematics and Science Center for mathematics and science supplies and opportunities such as field trips, guest speakers, and materials for Science Fair projects.
  • Participation in the annual “You be the Chemist” Detroit Regional Competition for students in grades 5-8, sponsored by PVS-Nolwood Chemicals, a Detroit company.
  • A partnership with the Engineering Society of Detroit and the DPS Foundation to provide the opportunity for middle school students to participate in the Future City Competition, whichpromotes engineering and design skills as students create the cities of the future.
  • Grades 6-12 participate in the annual YES! Expo (Youth Engineering and Science Expo) at Ford Field.
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