The Providence Elementary School (PES) STEM Lab was one of 11 projects honored by the Virginia Mathematics & Science Coalition with a 2014 Program that Work Award. The award recognizes exemplary mathematics, science, and integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs for which there is evidence of a positive impact on student or teacher learning.
PES Principal Jesse Kraft accepted the award with STEM Lab teachers Sarah Phillips and Diana Schmiesing in Richmond on Monday at the Virginia General Assembly Building.
The STEM Lab’s goal is to provide all K-6th grade students at PES with the experience and coaching needed to overcome failure and fixed mindsets. Students use innovator skills of solving problems, working in a team, trying different solutions, acting as a leader, analyzing data, communicating effectively, and using imagination and curiosity to solve age appropriate challenges. The program’s foundation is based on research from Carol Dweck’s Mindset and Tony Wagner’s Creating Innovators, as well as other thought leaders on 21st century skills. PES uses a dedicated lab space, classroom teachers, and two STEM resource teachers to cycle all 950 students through three to four engineering challenges during the year. The challenges require five consecutive days for each class, which allows students to understand the challenge, take it through the engineering design process (tons of trial and error) to find solutions, share solutions, and reflect on how they used their innovator skills and how those skills will transfer to real life.
Programs that Work awardee programs must have been conducted for a minimum of two full years, must include an evaluation component, and must demonstrate that the program is sustainable and can be replicated by others.
The Programs that Work Awards program has been conducted by the Virginia Mathematics & Science Coalition for more than 10 years.
The Virginia Mathematics & Science Coalition (VMSC) is a private, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to achieving excellence in mathematics and science education for Virginia’s K-12 and higher education students.
The Coalition has a board of 30 members representing corporate, educational, governmental, non-profit and scientific institutions. A support staff provides additional expertise and increases geographical and educational diversity.
Collaboration with other organizations provides strong links for addressing ongoing mathematics, science, and STEM educational concerns.
Currently, Coalition members are involved with more than $50 million in grants from national, state and regional funders. These grants involve many of Virginia’s public institutions of higher education and almost every school district in the state, with several districts linked to multiple grants.