Hopkins Public Schools has integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) into its elementary, junior high, and high school core curriculum. All Hopkins students are exposed to STEM concepts starting as early as preschool and continuing throughout junior high. In high school, students can choose from a variety of STEM-focused courses.
The Hopkins School District is endorsed by the Minnesota High Tech Association for its leading efforts with STEM.
What is STEM?
STEM refers to the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEM initiatives are not these disciplines in isolation. Rather, STEM is the integration of courses, programs, or linked learning opportunities using an interdisciplinary approach through exploration, discovery, and problem solving.
Learning by doing is inviting and exciting so students learn and remember more. Successful, hands-on experiences exploring technology and engineering can have a major influence on motivation and confidence in learning. Ultimately, we hope to inspire students to challenge themselves and consider careers in STEM fields.
- Bee-Bots and Code-a-Pillar programmable robots are just one way our Hopkins elementary schools are embracing STEM education. Students learn how to problem solve, use mathematical and programming languages, and understand angles and estimation. These kid-friendly devices introduce simple coding techniques to students and encourage technical thinking.
- Hour of Code is an initiative Hopkins Public Schools proudly supports. In 2015, Hopkins students recorded over 10,000 hours of hands-on technology time during the weeklong Code.org-sponsored initiative.
- Sphero was a new handheld robot introduced in classrooms during the 2016 Hour of Code. Controlled by an iPad, the small robot is maneuvered using coding sequences and enhances educational gameplay.
- iPads and Chromebooks are used in our classrooms to explore innovative and exciting curriculum related to STEM concepts.
- Hopkins Public Schools is a digital-friendly district and is dedicated to ensuring students and staff have state-of-the-art technology to enhance 21st century education.
Students need STEM project-based learning to build 21st century skills. Science and engineering jobs are growing 70 percent faster than other occupations. This means our students will be at an advantage when competing for the high-tech, high-wage jobs of the future.
“STEM, coding, and computer science is an important curriculum to teach and expose young students today,” said District elementary digital learning coach Colette Kastner, “because it provides a basis of skills such as persistence, creativity, teamwork, determination, and pride, which are necessary for the future in any role students choose.”
Where is STEM offered?
STEM is integrated into all preschool, elementary, junior, and senior high school core courses and programs through curriculum such as FOSS (Full Option Science System), Engineering is Elementary®, and introductory engineering courses.
Engineering is Elementary
Starting as early as preschool, Hopkins students begin taking STEM coursework through EiE (Engineering is Elementary) which applies science concepts to an engineering design challenge. Developed by the Museum of Science, Boston, the curriculum was brought to Hopkins in 2009 by the Science Museum of Minnesota from a Cargill grant. The program is fully implemented.
Full Option Science System (FOSS)
Our elementary science curriculum is hands-on and inquiry-based, using the FOSS (Full Option Science System) program. FOSS engages students by asking them to explore answers to open-ended questions. This allows students to construct an understanding of science concepts by completing investigations and answering questions about the real world. They then use their understanding of science concepts to solve engineering design challenges.
Engineering Courses at the Junior High Level
Hopkins Public Schools has incorporated an innovative and rigorous STEM curriculum tailored toward secondary students. Hopkins Public Schools uses this curriculum at the junior high and high school level. At Hopkins, the grade 8 engineering class is required. A variety of other classes are offered as electives starting in grade 9.
Engineering Junior High Courses:
- Nature of Science and Engineering
- Pre-Engineering Design
- Woods Design
Engineering Courses at the Senior High Level
Engineering classes have been offered at Hopkins High School for four years. Next year, the high school expects to be certified, which means students can potentially earn college credit for the engineering classes that they take. Engineering classes offer rigor and emphasize STEM concepts, but long before the high school adopted the curriculum, it offered engineering and technology classes through its tech ed department.
Engineering Courses Senior High Courses:
- Intro to Engineering and Design
- Mechanical Engineering
- Civil Engineering & Architecture 1
- Civil Engineering & Architecture 2
Other STEM Courses:
- Student Directed Studies in Applied Technology
- Computer Programming I and II
- AP Computer Science
More about STEM
In 2010, the state of Minnesota added a STEM standard to its elementary requirements. Hopkins received a Cargill Foundation grant to implement STEM curriculum starting in all of its grade 3 classrooms in during the 2010-11 school year, adding a grade level each year up through elementary. STEM education is not just about science, technology, engineering, and math; it is about critical thinking and problem solving skills that will help our students to be successful in many fields in the future. Our curriculum will make interdisciplinary connections to language arts, social studies, and the arts, giving our students a broad educational experience that will prepare them to become global citizens.
Interested in being part of the growing STEM community at Hopkins High School? Join the Hopkins Technocrats robotics team. Contact the team advisor and Hopkins High School science teacher Alyson Purdy at firstname.lastname@example.org.