STEAM Innovation in the Mt. Vernon Pyramid

Imagine coming to class and applying your knowledge of angles of reflection and properties of light and sound to build a model of a music hall, or using what you know about the depth of the ocean and marine mammals to create an imaginary animal and consider how it could affect other species.  In the Mount Vernon Pyramid, this type of project-based learning is taking center stage, thanks to the Integrated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) Innovation initiative.

The initiative aims to prepare students for the challenges of the 21st century by offering student-centered, inquiry-based instruction while exposing students to STEAM curriculum and potential careers.

Each of the pyramid elementary schools has a STEAM or science lab, where lab teachers collaborate with physical education, music, art, library, and technology specialists to plan and deliver lessons.  As an example, a lab teacher can pose a driving question to students designed to make them think like an engineer to solve a problem such as, “How can you, as a structural engineer, build a beaver home that can withstand erosion?”  This question will enable students to use the content they have learned in science and math to enrich and extend these concepts, and create and test their design while integrating improvements along the way.   Additionally, students can do research on erosion using the library, build a clay model of a beaver in art, and create a narrative of their learning process using technology.

At Whitman Middle, students can take courses on Automation and Robotics, learning about energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems; and Design and Modeling, where a culminating project is designing a therapeutic toy for a child with a disability.  At Mount Vernon High, students can take Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering, where they apply what they learn to develop a new product; and Networking, part of the cybersecurity pathway.  These classes are part of Project Lead the Way, the nation’s leading STEM program.  At both schools, after-school clubs focusing on cybersecurity and technology are open to all students. Learn more.