STEM in Action – Promoting Digital Literacy and S.T.E.M. Based Thinking

by | Nov 21, 2015

By Susan Lopez, Swanson Road Intermediate School Principal


Students at Swanson Road Intermediate School participate in a construction competition. Read “STEM in Action” on Monday in Auburn Mass Daily. ©John R. Anderson


Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics come alive each day at the Swanson Road Intermediate School. Having a talented Media Specialist at Swanson allows for direct instructional time, as well as integrated 21st Century skills in 25 different classrooms. Over the course of just two months, there have been an incredible variety of research-based best practices aimed at taking students to the highest levels of thinking in each and every classroom. SWIS is a hotbed of young innovators and having integrated media as a means for enhancing the creativity allows this to take place every day.

Steve Jobs is noted for his observation that innovation remains the distinguishing factor between leaders and followers. It can be said with confidence that Auburn is leading the pack when it comes to provoking higher order thinking and maximizing innovation.

Grades three, four, and five mark the perfect entry points for varying levels of a 1:1 computing initiative. Students are fearless in their embrace of technology, in particular, the seamless integration of iPads within academic tasks. It is only November, but students at all three grade levels have already demonstrated mastery of powerful applications such as Socrative, Educreations, Google Classroom, and iMovie.

Students regularly meet in the Technology Classroom in order to have the platform for new learning introduced.  After which, consistent opportunities to apply these skills are utilized as the specialist and classroom teachers work together to add to the content being taught. In every room at SWIS, you find technology functioning as a lens to enrich our Common Core Curriculum. Students have truly come to embrace all available technology as a tool for learning rather than as a toy. Students constantly surprise us with their astute perceptions about computing in an academic context rather than a social context and astound us with their high level of media literacy as digital natives.

In the Technology Classroom, students are grappling with the Common Sense Media Curriculum for digital citizenship. They analyze sources to determine reputability, evaluate digital alterations in contemporary advertising, and learn to recognize plagiarism as an endemic obstacle for 21st century learners.

As the year progresses, an increased level of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) instruction will grow beyond the Technology Classroom. On October 30th, teachers designed and executed engaging STEM based activities all over the school, exhibiting a strong foundation on which we will build for the remainder of the school year.

Our students are thirsty for creative outlets and the SWIS staff is eager to quench that thirst with everything from our intuitive new math software, GO Math, to the cross-curricular Science masterpieces turned out by the Art room. The buzz of our growing robotics program never ceases to amaze; young people spend their afternoons immersed in rigorous curriculum and dedicated to problem solving. Every day at SWIS is laden with possibilities thanks to the innovative culture fostered by the staff.  We are proud to be a part of the dynamic effort to prepare Auburn’s young people for the world of tomorrow.