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Learning in a Collaborative Environment

With yearlong, school-wide STEAM programming, along with our intensive STEAM Week, MPFS students are prepared to solve the problems of today and tomorrow. They experience the joy and frustration that comes with learning something entirely new, and the thrill and satisfaction of working through challenges and finding solutions together.  They are able to see a world of infinite possibility. Support collaborative learning at MPFS here. 

STEAM Week focuses on a broad and singular topic and incorporates each aspect of STEAM into this project-based exploration. Exactly where students conclude their STEAM journeys depends on the paths they choose to take. "My overall takeaway is that a lot of it is the process," said Daryl Ballough 4th-8th grade science teacher at MPFS. "The problem solving, that resiliency, the working together that the students demonstrate is really amazing." 

They experience the joy and frustration that comes with learning something entirely new, and the thrill and satisfaction of working through challenges and finding solutions together.  This is a unique opportunity for students across grades. It intentionally pushes them outside of their comfort zones as they apply their collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, technology, math, science, music, and art skills to navigate entirely unfamiliar territory. "Students who reflected on their experience said that they never wanted to give up, even when they were frustrated. It was satisfying for them to sit with that and work through it. The depth they were able to access with our STEAM programming was huge," says, T. Daryl.

The week highlights the importance of collaboration and the diversity of skills that each student brings to school. "The collegial feel of STEAM Week is very energizing for the whole school. With everyone working together for a common goal -- it feeds our creativity. It feeds our creativity as teachers and theirs as students," said T Daryl.

STEAM Week truly demonstrates how important it is to have the freedom to approach teaching and learning in innovative ways. The goals of the programs and activities are clear and intentional: they align with the academic and social/emotional skills MPFS students need to master to be successful.  Teachers are able to assess what students are learning and can support them in their success. "When (students) are able to delve deeply into their projects and work autonomously, that is when we see them really become invested. That's empowering. It's motivating, it's addicting. You're all in it when it's your own creation," said T Daryl. These things happen every day at MPFS but STEAM week is an opportunity to do it in a new way. By immersing students - particularly middle school students - in an intensive weeklong workshop, teachers are able to give them a unique learning experience that we know will have a long-term impact.

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. MPFS students have expressed a newfound joy in learning science in middle school. "I didn't really think I liked science until I came here," alumnus Eily said. Her former classmate, Josh, agreed saying that it was T. Daryl who really helped focus his interest in science towards engineering, which he hopes to pursue as a career. Alum, Oronde, said that it was the STEAM week experience that solidified for him that he wants to focus on science in high school. This kind of education cultivates curious, creative, and capable life-long learners prepared to succeed in whatever field they choose. With yearlong, school-wide STEAM programming, along with our intensive STEAM Week, MPFS students are prepared to solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

 

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