It has been almost a year since I accepted an invitation to visit The White House and participate in a meeting of superintendents and higher education leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education from across the United States to discuss the Maker Initiative. This was a fabulous opportunity to connect the Dracut Public Schools to school districts from across the country in support of student learning.
The Maker Movement celebrates creativity, design, invention, and exploration. Across the United States, Maker spaces are popping up (including spaces in Lowell, Burlington, and Nashua), and most recently, a network television show, America’s Greatest Makers is being aired, celebrating this cultural phenomenon.
In public schools, this movement is being adopted across the country in support of traditional STEM fields. With the addition of the traditional Arts, STEAM concepts are taking hold. At The White House event, I committed the Dracut Public Schools to incorporating Maker and STEAM concepts into our curricula. I am excited to report that a variety of initiatives are underway in all of our schools:
- Maker spaces have been created and are being used as creativity labs. Students are being exposed to hands-on activities where they can explore, create, design, and learn about various topics.
- Cross-curricula lessons are being designed and implemented, including lessons in elementary schools that combine science and music, expose students to activities with robotics, and combine the science of motion with poetry.
- At Dracut High, as an extension of our engineering program, the nationally recognized Project Lead the Way (PLTW), our robotics team has actively and successfully participated in regional robotics competitions.
- At Richardson Middle School, a robotics team has also been created; and TV studio equipment has been installed to allow students to utilize yet another medium for engaging in STEAM activities.
- Elementary robotics clubs are being created, so that we can begin to build excitement for STEM fields in our younger students.
- Elementary students are participating in Starbase Academy at Hanscom, providing them with a hands-on STEAM curriculum.
We have only just begun. The Dracut Public Schools will continue to develop, refine, and expand our efforts at harnessing the creativity of our talented teachers in support of engaging and relevant 21st Century learning opportunities for our children.