DL Jamerson Elementary Hosts First K-5 STEAM Conference

DL Jamerson (DLJ) Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Fla., is recognized as a leader in elementary engineering education. The school prides itself in designing enriching and engaging curriculum that takes students on a “learning adventure” focused on applying key engineering skills that are critical to problem-solving and developing higher order thinking skills. Part of DLJ’s success can be attributed to its successful strategy in formulating industry-education partnerships with FLATE (the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence for technological education), the University of South Florida’s School of Engineering, IBM and local industry and professional organizations. These strategic alliances mark enhanced educational opportunities for students, and has enabled DLJ to position itself as a leader in STEM education.

To support some of its STEM based initiatives, D L Jamerson recently partnered with FLATE and Magnet Schools of America to host its FIRST STEAM Conference for K-5 teachers, school administrative leaders/administrators, district school choice leaders and college students. The idea, according to Lukas Hefty, Magnet Program Coordinator at the Center for Mathematics and Engineering, is to bring together elementary school administrators and educators from across Florida who are in the process of implementing engineering centric STEM content that integrates the language and performing arts into their programs. The initiative is also; supports DLJ’s annual engineering day and expo which is attended by numerous local/regional schools;, markets its successful magnet program and more importantly; builds a network of support for elementary educators.

This year's one day conference provided a sneak peek into DLJ’s K-5 engineering artifacts, student-led exhibits, and a schoolwide engineering design challenge. A total of 120 students, educators and administrators from nine school districts and five colleges and universities attended the conference. There were also representatives from private and charter schools. Conference presenters and speakers included faculty and administrators from DLJ as well as those from across the state. Some of the attention grabbing sessions included a presentation by Susan Carney, STEM Coach at Sutherland Elementary School. Carney’s presentation centered on a favorite childhood story about the “Three Billy Goats” and their attempts in building the best bridge from an engineering perspective. Margaret Giunta and Nichole LeGrant STEM teachers at DL Jamerson also built upon a similar theme of Goldilocks as an Engineer. Their presentation was geared to showcase how innovative curricula can be used to implement phenomena-based and question driven instruction.

Dr. Marilyn Barger and Dr. Richard Gilbert, Principal Investigators of FLATE, who have played a leading role in mentoring DLJ in formulating STEM-based curriculum since its inception, delivered the keynote address. Guided campus tours represented a unique highlight as it gave Conference attendees a chance to see “classrooms in action.” The Engineering 101 class, led by Dr. Gilbert and Dr. Barger also gave attendees a “small taste of the content knowledge needed for successful curriculum development starting at the elementary level” Hefty said.

DL Jamerson Elementary School shares a longstanding partnership with FLATE on various STEM projects. The school provides an exemplary and leading role in bringing industry/real-world experience into the classroom by inviting industry partners to tour the campus on a regular basis. Dr. Barger and Dr. Gilbert have provided and continue to provide professional development for DLJ teachers, including a full day workshop in 2015. “These workshops have been key in the development of teachers who are fairly new to our program” Lukas stated. Looking to the future, Lukas hopes to partner with FLATE in expanding DLJ’s community outreach through events like the STEAM Conference, USF Engineering Expo, and presentations at conferences and to industry partners.

Following the Conference, DLJ received overwhelming feedback from attendees. In a post event survey, 100% of respondents stated they would attend the next Conference in 2018. Approximately 90% rated the overall experience as excellent, with the remaining 10% rating it as very good. The highest rated breakout session was "Goldilocks, an Engineer?" One hundred percent of attendees rated the session as Excellent.

The next STEAM Conference is scheduled for May 10-11, 2018. Registration and requests for proposals will open in Fall 2017, so stay tuned, or contact Lukas Hefty at HEFTYL@pcsb.org, and visit www.pcsb.org/jamerson-es. For information on FLATE’s STEM focused programs for K-14 students and educators visit www.fl-ate.org and www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org

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