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7th graders Build a Bog Using STEAM Skills

October 16, 2014

Right now, 88 Wareham (Massachusetts) middle schoolers are using STEAM skills to create a cranberry bog on their school campus. Sparked by a 2009 Gateway Institute at the Museum of Science, Boston, science teacher Sue Taber helped launch a STEAM Academy this fall for 7th graders to use science, technology, engineering, art, and math in a real-life project linked to state standards. Planting cranberry plugs this spring, students hope to harvest berries in October 2015.

"Through my Gateway experience," says Taber, "I saw that teaching engineering -- which had seemed so overwhelming -- was not only possible but relevant for 7th graders." After a STEM course at Gillette in 2013, Taber and three other Wareham Middle School teachers enlisted the support of Wareham superintendent Kimberly Shaver-Hood, the school committee, cranberry growers, and others to create and equip the academy.

The Gateway Project at the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy® introduces Massachusetts educators to resources supporting standards-based technology and engineering curricula and assessments, while helping school districts develop strategic plans to deliver engaging and rigorous K-12 STEM programs.

For example, Wareham students are using STEAM skills such as math to measure and lay the sand, peat and clay for their "micro-bog," the science of glaciers, weather, and bees to understand bog evolution, and the engineering and technology in picking, processing, manufacturing, and packaging cranberry products. In another project, the students will use the humanities to create a business plan for a sustainable product made from waste which they will design and market.

No wonder the independent University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute research findings show that the Gateway Project has been "an important resource in supporting technology and engineering (T&E) education change" for the majority of school district leaders surveyed. They noted access to high-quality, hands-on T&E activities, innovations, and best practices to bring back to the classroom.

"I am inspired by educators like Sue Taber, a perfect example of the impact of the Gateway Project," says NCTL vice president Yvonne Spicer who directs Gateway. Recognized by the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council as an @Scale educational model, Gateway has been replicated across the country. For more information: gateway@mos.org.

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500   information@mos.org