Updated: Jul 28
At Baldwin County's Lakeview Primary School, STEAM Teacher and Teacher of the Year, Brittany Nichols, is leading a groundbreaking approach to STEAM education by incorporating it into every classroom in the school. With the support of Principal Tracy Clark and fellow teachers, Nichols embarked on a mission at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year to address a pressing local issue through the power of STEAM - the problem of healthy food sources in Milledgeville.
"We now have a big school garden outside with 30 raised beds so that each class can participate in gardening," Nichols said, "and then inside of our school, we have hydroponics so they are getting to garden all year long. And all the things that come along with keeping the garden healthy."
Recognizing the potential of STEAM education to empower students to solve real-world issues while also learning fundamental math, literature, and creative problem solving skills, Nichols and her colleagues organized a collaborative effort to tackle different aspects of the health food issue throughout the year. Each grade level took on a unique project related to healthy food sources, delving into areas such as gardening, life cycles of farm animals and insects, and weather. In keeping with the school's science standards, students in second grade also studied motion as well.
By addressing real-world challenges, Lakeview Primary's students gained insight into the ways that their typical classroom assignments could be utilized in unique and exciting ways. "I think that, to do STEAM correctly, it needs to be in the homeroom class," Nichols said, "what I can do with fifty minutes of time doesn't seem to do STEAM justice." The innovative integration of STEAM education allowed teachers to examine issues from multiple angles and encouraged collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving. Kindergarten teacher Crystal Kennedy, who earned two STEAM grants over the course of the year, said that it's done wonders for her class, "Trying to get five and six year-olds to write is a very hard thing," she said, "But when they're realizing, 'Wow! This chameleon is so cool!' or robots, or engineering bridges, then they're more willing to write and have fun in the writing and reading process."
Principal Tracy Clark emphasized the profound impact of the initiative, stating, "We see our kids growing creatively thinking critically thinking is really well, we did our first entry with some kindergarteners to the stem fair, and we did win first place." Clark also said that the daily 30-45 minutes of homeroom STEAM time also is appealing to students who are less academically gifted, but who have more creative and critical thinking skills.
"We see our kids growing creatively thinking critically thinking is really well, we did our first entry with some kindergarteners to the stem fair, and we did win first place."
The dedication and vision of Brittany Nichols, along with the unwavering support of Principal Tracy Clark and the teaching staff, have created a learning environment where students can apply their STEAM knowledge to effect positive change in their community. Lakeview Primary's commitment to addressing local food disparities exemplifies the power of STEAM education in empowering young minds and fostering a sense of social responsibility.
As Lakeview Primary students continue their journey of exploration and innovation, their efforts serve as an inspiration to educational institutions throughout our District and beyond. By harnessing the transformative potential of STEAM education, they are not only cultivating academic excellence but also nurturing the next generation of problem solvers and community leaders.