Lately Lakers have been hearing more and more about the new STEAM program within the halls of WBHS. Since the program was first introduced last year, it has since expanded its opportunities for students. With new programs come new questions, so we spoke with WBSD Technology Integration and Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Ms. Katherine Law about all that STEAM has to offer.
What is STEAM? STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. STEAM programs employ a Project Based Learning approach, a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge. STEAM uses critical thinking skills and incorporates the arts into this framework by recognizing that in order to be successful in technical fields, students must also be creative.
What are the benefits of joining the STEAM program for high school students? Students have an opportunity to take classes unique to the STEAM program, such as Medical Mentorship, Political Leadership, CO-OP, and the new Science PBL Capstone class coming next year. Most importantly, the classes in the STEAM pathways are geared toward problem-solving and inquiry, which are skills required for college and career.
How does a student apply to STEAM? What are the steps that need to be taken? Students will need to apply online here by heading to the West Bloomfield School District main webpage. In that application, students will select an assessment date and be prepared to attend at that time.
When can a student apply to STEAM? Students may apply between February 1st and March 1st.
Why was the STEAM program implemented in our district? We wanted our students to have the opportunity to integrate STEAM skills and inquiry-based learning in an intentional and structured way.
What are the different things students can do with STEAM? Students can choose one of the five pathways: Science, Engineering, Political Leadership, Fine Arts and Business
Do students need to re-apply to STEAM each year? No, once they have been accepted into STEAM at the High School level they will remain in the program and do not need to reapply.
What is the STEAM test like? What can students do to prepare? The STEAM assessment will measure students’ reading and writing skills, in addition to their perseverance. My suggestion would be to take the test to the best of their ability.
What do colleges and universities think about programs like STEAM? Does the STEAM program provide students with what colleges are looking for? Colleges would definitely be encouraged to hear that a student has earned a STEAM endorsement, which means they completed a Capstone class or internship in their STEAM pathway. This is an indicator of a mastery of STEAM skills, such as collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking.
Which programs currently at WBHS fall under the STEAM category? There are currently five pathways:
Science, which includes Medical Mentorship and PBL Capstone classes.
Engineering, which includes Engineering Academy 1-4 and Straight Engineering 1-3.
Political Leadership, which includes the Political Leadership internship class.
Fine Arts, which include music, visual and performing arts, and video production.
Business, which includes DECA and CO-OP.
If a student is already in one of these programs, do they still need to apply? Perhaps. In order to register for the internship or capstone opportunities in each pathway, a student must have applied for and been accepted into STEAM in that pathway. For example, a student is welcome to take Fine Arts or Business classes without being in STEAM, but if they want to take the Business CO-OP class or complete a Fine Arts Internship/Capstone, they must be in that STEAM pathway.
What is the long term plan for STEAM? Is this a program that WBSD plans to continue? Absolutely! Interest is growing each year and we are hoping to continue expanding the offerings and pathways in years to come.
Remember, the application deadline is rapidly approaching, so if you are a student who is interested, consider applying!