Decatur County Schools Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Initiative
Design Principles form the vision for STEM in Decatur County and were developed in partnership with the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES), educators within the system, parents, students, Bainbridge State College, SW GA RESA, 4-H, Meredian, State Farm and other stakeholders. The continuation of these design principles continue to guide the system's work with present day business and industries within our community of stakeholders including by not limited to GYSTC, Southern Regional, Taurus, A1 Roof Truss, Farm Credit, Danimer, and Decatur County 4-H Programs.
Decatur County Schools STEM Design Principles
To provide a strong knowledge base of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to all students in Decatur County and advance critical thinking, creativity, and innovation with a real-word vision we must:
1) Design all school structures to prepare students to think independently and analytically to ensure college-ready, work-ready competencies and access for all.
• Instruction that prepares students for the global knowledge economy must be flexible and adaptive, so scheduling, planning time and student placement should address the needs of the learner.
• Courses should incorporate transdisciplinary projects with real-world application across disciplines and grade levels.
• Assessments should mirror learning outcomes and emphasize evidence of learning through performance tasks.
2) Develop STEM partnerships to enhance Decatur County Schools’ capacity and broaden student, teacher and leadership opportunities in STEM.
• Human capital is critical to sustainability and Decatur County Schools must provide innovative opportunities for recruitment, retention and advancement for all.
• Collaboration is not a natural act, but Decatur County must emphasize it as a priority. The school, business, higher education, non-profit and faith-based communities must share in the educational outcomes for students, teachers and leaders.
3) Promote an environment of inquiry, collaboration and open communication to create a single STEM community of practice.
• The STEM disciplines provide an opportunity to align K-12, higher education and the work force. This requires a cultural shift and commitment to communication and shared responsibility amongst all stakeholders.
• We must empower all to understand that enlightened self-interest is as valuable as collaboration.
• The DCS community must take a stance on inquiry with the understanding that all stakeholders are regarded as “knowers, learners “ and researchers.
4) Design sustainable innovations that are flexible, allowing evolution of the design blueprint to be applicable throughout each stage of implementation.
• We must design with constraints in mind and define short and long-term outcomes as we provide equitable opportunities in STEM for all.
• Prototypes matter. STEM initiatives enacted today will offer greater impact for all Decatur County Schools if we start small, align resources and provide comprehensive support for all.
5) Personalize STEM education to foster social responsibility, parent and community engagement, and ownership of learning.
• Each stakeholder is vital and STEM education must provide access for all, including members of the immediate school community and the Decatur County community at large.
• Education is deeply personal and we must empower our students to take ownership of their individual learning experiences and create structures and support systems to make it possible. This includes a clear vision for family engagement and collective responsibility.
OVERVIEW of STEM in Georgia
The Georgia Department of Education is dedicated to preparing students for 21st Century workplace careers by providing high quality educational opportunities in STEM fields. STEM represents the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM education encourages a curriculum that is driven by problem solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions. The saturation of technology in most fields means that all students – not just those who plan to pursue a STEM profession – will require a solid foundation in STEM to be productive members of the workforce.