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Elementary STEM Program
Children building using blocks

The South Windsor Elementary STEM program was piloted during the 2016-2017 school year at Philip R. Smith School and met with great success.  Parents, students and staff enthusiastically embraced the program and rallied for the expansion to our three remaining elementary schools the following year.  The elementary STEM program now services all students in grades K-5.  Each elementary school has a designated STEM teacher who meets with grade K-3 students once a week and grade 4 and 5 students twice a week.  Our program utilizes the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Launch curriculum supplemented by the Connecticut Invention curriculum in grade 5.  

The PLTW Launch curriculum is designed especially for the elementary learner. In addition to teaching the engineering design process and introducing the idea of STEM to students early in their education, this program reinforces skills learned in Math, ELA and Science. The PLTW model uses a problem-based approach to learning. Students are engaged in real life problems that they solve by designing and testing different solutions. The students apply their new knowledge to different situations throughout the course of the year. For example, kindergartners have designed a paint brush that has multiple functions, and fourth graders have created an automobile restraint system that protects an egg during a collision. In addition to PLTW, grade 5 students work through the Connecticut Invention curriculum. They identify a problem, then design, build and test a prototype to solve their problem. 5th graders present and explain their solutions at the districtwide Invention Convention.

There are many benefits to having a STEM program at the elementary level. Students are engaged because learning feels like play. The hands-on lessons are interactive and student-centered. Creativity is encouraged, and younger students have an opportunity to learn in ways that are new and different. Technology devices such as iPads and OSMO kits are used almost daily to explore coding, robotics and engineering software apps. The STEM program has also given South Windsor a new platform for increasing family and community engagement. Recent popular events have included Family STEM nights which are attended by hundreds of parents, presentations by students at Board of Education meetings, and our annual Invention Convention competition. We have noticed that this early exposure has ignited an excitement for science and technology in our students, and we hope this will lead to an increased passion for these areas later in their education and beyond!


Project Lead the Way

Connecticut Invention Convention

CADRE brief:  Considerations for STEM Education from PreK through Grade 3


Arnica Sullivan   |   |   (860) 474-1448

  • Critical Thinking
  • STEM
  • Technology