Curriculum

Focus on STREAM and Innovation

“STREAM : Science and Technology, interpreted through Engineering and the Arts, conveyed through reading and writing, all based in elements of Mathematics.” -- Georgette Yakman

From STEM, to STEAM, to STREAM

STREAM is an acronym for the most exciting, forward-thinking concept in education today. St. Thomas began working with the STEM concept in 2012 with the dedication of the Symbiosis STEM Lab. During the 2013-14 year, the STEM concept was expanded to STEAM as the basis for integrated education by adding “A” for “The Arts.”  In 2017, the term evolved to STREAM to represent reading as this is the cornerstone of our curriculum and learning.

Expanding the Acronym

Once the STEM vision of integrating the science/technology/engineering/math subjects took hold in the minds of leading educators, it became obvious that the arts and then reading/writing are also integral to the majority of science/technology projects. Students in a STREAM-driven program begin with real-world problems – like a bridge needed in a newly developed area or levees that have to be re-built to better standards after a hurricane. Clearly the design aspect (visual arts) and clear communication (language arts) are essential to the project. The STREAM dream is ever-increasing integration of academic disciplines in the school setting in order to reflect the real world.

Integrated Curriculum—the Challenge and the Joy

For teachers, the goal of integrating their disciplines with other disciplines is a challenge. Some subject areas and concepts lend themselves more readily to integration than others. Those are the starting places. Teachers are engaging in remarkable creative, innovative approaches in each subject area to achieve integration among subjects. The "STREAM stream" at St. Thomas has begun flowing, and we’ve planned an exciting journey. As education and technology continue to evolve, we will continue to explore places and spaces we can’t even imagine today.

A Little History

The STEM concept resulted from national studies showing that the United States was rapidly losing a competitive edge in education. The STEM initiative was born, emphasizing the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as integrated curriculum rather than as stand-alone classroom subjects. STEM was originally a vision for middle schools, high schools, and colleges. St. Thomas was one of the first elementary schools in our area to bring the concept to the elementary level.  Again, we lead the way as we implement a full STREAM program. 

The addition of our "maker space"

The DIY culture has officially arrived at St. Thomas! Step into the Brockway Media Center the next time you are on campus, and you’ll find yourself in our emerging Maker Space. Maker Spaces are dynamic learning environments that encourage and promote collaboration, creativity, and creative thinking. They provide activities that incorporate 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. In the maker space, students solve problems, design solutions, and prototype using hands-on materials such as crafts, electronics, 3D printers, 3D modeling, coding, lazer cutters, and robotics.
 
With our “Innovation Team” at the helm (Katie Acosta, Will Noble, Maritza Fernandez, Evans Crews, and Lisa Timpone) creative juices are already flowing.  Curriculum conversations with classroom teachers will continue to ignite meaningful ideas and projects. The birth of the Maker Space at St. Thomas is a cause for celebration, as we pave the way for the entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors of the future.

Students Need 21st Century Skills

The STREAM approach reflects the thinking of educators that certain skills are critical for the 21st century. They have been designated the “Seven Cs” of innovation: 
  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Capability
  • Commitment
Developing these seven skills in an educational environment where academic disciplines are integrated is considered the best preparation for further education and for professional life.