Lower school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education at St. Anne’s strives to connect the sciences, computer science, and outdoor education. Students are immersed in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through the Project Lead The Way curriculum (PLTW). The NGSS standards are designed to set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do. The crosscutting concepts in the standards are: Patterns; Cause and Effect; Scale, Proportion, and Quantity; Systems and System Models; Energy and Matter; Structure and Function; and Stability and Change. Using the PLTW curriculum to engage the students through storytelling and activity based and project based learning has proven to be extremely effective in gaining and retaining knowledge throughout the lower school years, building a solid foundation on which to learn and explore during the middle school years. PLTW includes the scientific, engineering, math, and computer science standards. Through our approach to teaching and learning our students learn the standards and also learn how to be creative, problem solve, collaborate, think critically, and gain confidence as skilled scientists in both the built environment and natural sciences.
In addition to our formal curriculum, students engage with a scaffolded robotics and coding program starting in Pre-K through 4th grade. During Pre-K students begin learning the fundamentals of computer science through Scratch Jr. and start to experiment with Kibo robotics and coding in the STEM lab. Kindergarteners continue to grow and learn in Scratch Jr. and Kibo robotics through project based learning. In first grade students begin to program Blue Bots and build on their Scratch Jr. abilities. In second and third grade students use Lego robotics, connecting with our standards of curriculum more formally. As a culminating project, fourth grade students design, build, and program cardboard robots using Hummingbird robotics and SNAP! programming language.