STEM Experiences 1.10
1.10 - Community, post-secondary, and business/industry partners and/or families actively support and are engaged with teachers and students in the STEM program.
BMSA strives to build and maintain supportive and collaborative relationships with parents, community and business partners for a cycle of continuous improvement. One of our greatest strengths is that we teach with an inquiry and problem-based learning approach that motivates teachers to frequently invite experts into their classrooms and to take field trips in order to make the learning opportunities real-world based. We are fortunate to have maintained relationships over the years with a variety of parent volunteers, businesses, government and local experts in a vast array of STEM fields. We reach out to these partners (attached list below) for many different STEM-based activities, in all grade levels, multiple times a year for things such as:
- Family Engineering and Problem-Based Learning Showcase Nights
- Field trips
- Guest speakers
- Opportunities to share what we do at community events
Another strength of our program is the continuous effort the staff and our PTO put into grant writing to seek funding for the programs listed above and those such as our community garden and classroom support. In the past five years we have written more than 100 grants with over $96,000 raised which has been used to fund our activities, support technological device acquisition, classroom alternative seating, supplies, libraries and professional development.
Community and Partnerships at Barbara Morgan STEM Academy
Through grant writing and community support from parents and businesses such as Home Depot, BMSA was able to build and develop a community garden that is utilized for both science education in all K-5 grade levels and community wellness. Students apply what they are learning about plants, animals and our environment from their inside classrooms to our outdoor classroom. Students were involved in the initial garden design that allowed for each room to have it's own bed. From there the teachers have engaged the students in integrated lessons around planting decisions, soil testing, and use of products. Students witness the integration of science, technology, engineering, math, health and community outreach through this resource. In addition, it allows us to involve students in the giving of fresh fruit and vegetables to area families and the Meridian food bank. The garden is maintained by the year-round volunteer involvement of all of the staff, administration, parents and community experts.
An integral part of our BMSA culture is the use of integration and inquiry to guide student learning. This often leads discussions and questions down paths that are not an elementary teacher's area of expertise and therefore we bring in outside experts to consult with students and teachers at all grade levels. We are fortunate to have built relationships with professionals in a variety of fields who consistently return each year to share their knowledge and help students with their problems and designs. These visits might be conducted through assemblies, classroom/grade level demonstrations, panel members for project presentations or Skype conferences. As a staff we model the traits of being lifelong learners and bring in support to show that learning goes on beyond the classroom doors and into the real-world.
Partners For Family Engineering Nights
Our annual Family Engineering Night in September is always a highlight and kick-off to the new school year. We have a new STEM challenge each time and invite families to work together to design, build, test and re-design a model. The goal is to let families participate in our W.I.S.E. Way process that we use each day with our students and to show the families and community the applicable ties between school, college and career. They wonder, investigate, share and extend through a differentiated school-wide design challenge that allows them to experience the love and excitement for STEM that inquiry brings. These nights would not be possible without the volunteer support of area businesses and government entities who bring their real-world examples of the models we are building. We are also able to bring in area colleges, clubs and libraries to conduct outreach to the attending families as well as volunteers to help with the builds in each classroom.
- Simple Machines
Business and Parent Partners for Clubs
Idaho's Treasure Valley has a growing tech community and we are fortunate to be able to partner with many who see allowing their employees work release time to volunteer at their student's school as a valuable resource in the STEM pipeline. There is also the participation of individual business owners, retirees and parents who want to be involved and help garner the interest and love for all things STEM. In addition, we have established ties with area middle and high schools to arrange mentor opportunities and field service hours to help us accommodate full clubs that have long waiting lists.
- Chess Club
- Coding Club K-5th
- Engineering Club K-3rd
- Girls on the Run
- Guys in Ties
- Robotics Club 4th-5th
- STEM Racing Club
- Student Leadership Team
- Technology Club (Tech Support/Video News Team)
- Writing Club
Field Trips to Area Partners
Field trips are an excellent way for BMSA students to experience STEM outside of the classroom and each trip allows us to expose our students and their families to a wide variety of careers and opportunities in our area. STEM comes alive at places like the Boise Watershed, MK Nature Center and Gowen Air Field. Our PTO, teachers and staff work hard through grant writing, fundraising and acquiring district support to ensure that every grade level has the resources to take our students out to explore. Most grade levels attend two or more field trips per year for a variety of experiences in STEM, history, government, and artistic arenas.
Relationships to Support STEM Pipeline
At BMSA we recognize our role in preparing students for careers in both our area and around the world. We open our doors to groups like the Rotary Club who visit to see how students are being prepared for the future workforce and local and state government representatives as when Governor Butch Otter came to learn how to code with students during Hour of Code. Our staff frequently participate in opportunities such as the Business Educator Exchange, Age of Agility Governor's Conference and state level STEM development planning in order to strengthen our relationships with the STEM pipeline community and have a better understanding of what they need in future workers.
List of Partners:
Ada County Highway District
Air National Guard
Birds of Prey
Bogus Basin Adaptive Sports Program
Boise State University
Business Educator Exchange
City of Meridian (Mayor, Library, Fire & Police Depts.)
FFA-Ag Expo Meridian
Foothills Learning Center
Gowen Air BaseGowen Air Base
Idaho Educational Technology Association
Meridian Public Library
MK Nature Center
STEM Action Center
US Department of Agriculture
US Forest Service
US Paralympic Committee