At MPFS, the acronym STEAM stands for the cross-curriculum study of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. In the past decade, growth in jobs that require this kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary thinking have been growing at three times the rate of non-STEAM fields. This kind of education cultivates curious, creative, and capable life-long learners prepared to succeed in whatever field they choose. From fun with robotics across grades, dissecting owl pellets in kindergarten, computer programming basics in 1st grade, exploring rocks and minerals in third grade, and brain science in middle school, teachers tackle these subjects with a collaborative approach.
With yearlong, school-wide STEAM programming, along with our intensive STEAM Week, MPFS students are prepared to solve the problems of today and tomorrow. STEAM Week focuses on a topic and incorporates each aspect of STEAM into this project-based exploration. In 2018, the STEAM-theme of Windows into Health: Finding a Healthy Balance informed the activities and programming for this project-based, immersive learning experience. During STEAM Week, students took part in activities around finding balance both physically (with the food we eat, how we move through the world) and mentally (with activities around mindfulness and meditation.) With a focus on engineering and service learning, 5th-8th grade students worked together to build twenty 3D-printed prosthetic hands, which are in the process of being donated to children in need. To learn more about this service-learning STEAM experience, watch the video above and read the article titled "Students Build 3D Prosthetic Hands for Differently-Abled Children" in our Around Campus News section.
Students also have access to the Makerspace, a hands-on, integral part of learning at MPFS. The Makerspace is a classroom solely dedicated to encouraging students to innovate, problem-solve, and create. While doing all of those things is part of everyday life here at MPFS, this space is designed to give students the opportunity to be more open-ended with their creativity and to have a wide variety of tools and materials at their disposal to inspire innovation.
The space includes high tech tools, such as a 3D printer; low tech tools, including handsaws and hammers; and tools in between, such as sewing machines. Materials students have access to include cardboard, paper and wood, as well as new materials, such as PLA (Polylactic Acid) Filament, the thermoplastic used to create 3D objects with the printer. Students of all ages have opportunities to play, explore, build, discover, and create in the Makerspace. As part of the MPFS After-School Enrichment program, students from grades 1 through 8 have the opportunity to sign-up for weekly Makerspace studio time. For six weeks, students have 75-minutes of supervised time to tinker, build, deconstruct, and create. For photos of the Makerspace experience, view the Makerspace photo gallery.