Even though the past two years have been incredibly hard to manage with COVID-19 restrictions in the classroom, Beekmantown Middle School continues to improve and encourage students to get involved in STEAM education. TDC was proud to support these young learners as our area is full of opportunities within the realm of STEAM. Just last month, TDC and local manufacturers sponsored facility tours for 8th grade students to see day-to-day operations and speak with professionals. The school continues to partner with local manufacturers like SpencerARL and Vapor Stone Rail as the program continues to evolve.
The Beekmantown Middle School (BMS) STEAM program goals include:
By offering early exposure and involvement in STEAM courses, young talent might be more apt to stay in our region and enrich the local workforce. Especially if encouraged to use artistic strengths in addition to science, technology and mathematics. We often see the acronym STEM instead of STEAM, especially in workforce and education.
TDC Board member, Anthony Searing, was pleased to see the program putting the "A" back in "STEAM." Art is an important learning area as it allows creativity; creativity is extremely useful in problem-solving.
The program involves a multi-faceted learning environment; students are taught robot assembly, programing and testing, computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing in the classroom. The BMS goal of early exposure is invaluable for success as the students navigate through high school and prepare their transition into higher education, or the workforce. 10 years ago, these courses were only available to college-level students and now students as young as 12 are learning how to build and program a robot. As students learn the material, they are realizing which careers may or may not suit them. One student has already developed his entrepreneurial skills. He has recently designed and created 3D printed tools for his father's business in order to increase productivity.
Pictured left and right is the Beekmantown Middle School Idea Lab and Robotics Club competition board. The club orders these layouts from Lego and the two club teams compete in regional competitions every year. Each year has a theme, last year’s was “Cargo Connect” which addressed supply chain issues. A very real-world problem today; all students addressed the issues with sustainable and cost-effective solutions. The students' levels ranged from 6th to 8th grade and they are each given a role on their team. In addition to building their Lego board elements for the competition, they must build and program their robots to compete. They are not only mentored by teachers through their assembly and research, the students are also mentored by two previous members of the club that are now in high school, the last members to have competed before the pandemic started.
Students in Mr. Spoor's technology classroom build a robot also using Lego parts, in just 40 minutes! This task is finally back to a collaborative effort and students work in teams or in pairs to build their robot. Mr. Spoor was one of the teachers to write the grant application to TDC. It was very clear to all of us at TDC that the Beekmantown Middle School exceeded expectations for the program. The teachers and anyone involved have created a vitally important program for our young learners. Thank you to Beekmantown Middle School for hosting us!