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SJHS Take on Cross-Curricular Ziggurat STEM Challenge

SJHS 8th Graders Take Part in Ziggurat STEM Challenge

8th grade SJHS students completed their cross-curricular Ziggurat STEM Challenge last week.  At its most basic, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Alternatively, STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. But STEM education is far more than just sticking those subject titles together. It’s a philosophy of education that embraces teaching skills and subjects in a way that resembles real life. 

Ziggurat STEM The key component of STEM and STEAM is integration. Instead of teaching disciplines in independent subject silos, lessons are well rounded, project and inquiry based, with a focus on interdisciplinary learning. STEM and STEAM align with the way we work and problem solve in our daily lives, making it an exceptional way of instructing and learning. With STEM, we are teaching skills the way they will be used in the workforce and the real world. Rarely does a job require only one skill set like mathematics. Architects, for example, use science, mathematics, engineering and technology to do their jobs. The subjects do not work on their own, instead they are woven together in practical and seamless ways allowing the architect to design complex buildings.

STEM and STEAM are not new, they are simply ways of understanding and applying an integrated form of learning that resembles real life. Instead of teaching mathematics as separate from science, they can be taught together in a way that shows how the knowledge from those two fields compliment and support each other.

The 8th grade students at SJHS used the Engineering Design Process to plan, design, and build anSTEM historically accurate Mesopotamian Ziggurat (religious temple for their gods). The staircase or spiral ramp doubled as a marble track where the students calculated the marble’s speed, potential energy, and kinetic energy. Additionally, the students explained where the marble demonstrated the Law of Conservation of Energy and Newton’s Laws of Motion. Lastly, the students communicated their designs through real estate advertisements using graphic design platforms on their Chromebook.

Dr. Jeffrey Bibbee, Professor of History and Associate Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering for UNA, visited SJHS to judge the designs for their accuracy, functionality, and creativity.