A Letter from Tracy Springman, STEM Coordinator
The purpose of the STEM program at IRCS is to enhance student knowledge in areas of science, technology, engineering and math related skills with real-world application and provide opportunities to explore future professions that will allow students to make an eternal impact on the world. Even though our program is in its beginning stages, IRCS has made great strides in implementing a variety of STEM opportunities for students at each academic level. Our core values include developing critical thinking and science processing skills from a Christian worldview and the exploration of post-secondary education and occupations in STEM through robust partnerships within our community.
The first video below shares personal testimonies of the impact STEM education has had on students, parents and staff. The second video is a virtual tour of the proposed STEM Resource Center we plan to build for students and staff in the near future.
Preschool STEM Program
As little ones are naturally inquisitive and motivated explorers, IRCS supports these behaviors implementing STEM activities in the classroom. Each teacher creates an environment of curiosity and exploration as students observe and interact with God’s creation. Students have the freedom to ask questions and be creative problem solvers with teachers who love to foster a positive attitude toward STEM education. Through the use of hands-on activities, students obtain an understanding of the scientific and engineering processes and how important it is to care for our planet and show concern for others in our world.
Elementary STEM Program
Elementary STEM focuses on exploration and building critical thinking skills. Students have an opportunity to participate in an after school STEM enrichment program each 9 week period. They focus on a particular STEM challenge and at the end of the quarter, students have a exhibition day showing off their designs. In addition, during the normal school day, teachers provide periodic STEM activities woven within the curriculum.
One highlight we aim to do each year is connecting students to a real-world problem that one of our faith promise missionaries is experiencing. While learning more about the ministry of the specific missionary, students learn how an understanding of STEM will help solve current problems on the field. Furthermore, teachers have started using a science inquiry and engineering online platform which provides students with the tools to master step-by-step problem solving skills in science and engineering.
Middle School STEM Program
Middle school is a time when students are experiencing a lot of new changes. To assist them on their journey, we offer a variety of after school activities they can explore. Students have an opportunity to participate in the Robotics Club. This after-school club allows students to engineer and code robots to accomplish a specific challenge. During the fall, students will start preparing for the VEX Middle School Competition. Additionally, middle school computer classes include coding in the curriculum with Sphero balls. Students may also enjoy participating in the Environmental Club. They learn about the importance of taking care of the environment and participate in activities in the community. We plan to provide this group with a hydroponics garden in the near future.
IRCS middle school students also start engaging in outside science, engineering and math competitions to challenge students to solve real-world problems. Students will also continue to use a science inquiry and engineering on-line platform which provides students with the tools to master step-by-step problem solving skills in science and engineering.
High School STEM Program
High school is a time when students have a deeper opportunity to serve and build their resume for future education and employment. Like middle school students, They have a variety of after school activities they can explore. Students have an opportunity to participate in the Robotics Club. This after-school club allows students to engineer and code robots to accomplish a specific task. During the fall, students will start preparing for the VEX High School Competition. Students lead the charge when it comes to being environmentally concerned citizens. It is an active club that participates in local community cleanup events and educates the younger students on environmental concerns. Students are excited about the possibility of having their own hydroponics farm to manage in the near future.
IRCS also engages in outside science, engineering and math competitions to challenge students to solve real-world problems. For the last three years, IRCS has taken home the Best of Show Project in the Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Hannah Anderson, pictured above, was also selected to represent IRCS at ISWEEEP, an International Environmental Competition held each year in Texas. We are in the process of increasing our mentor base so students have a greater opportunity to form robust relationships with local experts in STEM fields to guide them during their individual research.
There is also a yearly highlight of a specific problem facing one of our faith promise missionaries that certain classes are challenged to solve. Recently, the Physics II class was challenged with designing a pump system that would bring water to an education center in Brazil. Future implementation may be possible based on the design our students propose.
Lastly, high school students may apply for a STEM-related ministry mester trip. The most recent trip was to Ecuador as our students joined 4 medical professionals to provide medical clinics deep within the Amazon jungle. They worked alongside our faith promise missionaries, David and Monica Proano who shared the Gospel at every clinic. A trip like this is truly life changing and shows how gifts and talents in STEM fields can make a difference for the Kingdom of God.