Middle School grades follow STEM curriculum, Project Lead the Way’s (PLTW) “Gateway to Technology”.
Middle school is a time of exploration, a time when students are figuring out what they’re passionate about today and how that relates to who they’ll become tomorrow.
During this transitional time, PLTW Gateway’s 6 units empower students to lead their own discovery. The hands-on program boosts classroom engagement and excitement, drives collaboration, and inspires “aha! moments” and deep comprehension. And as students engage in PLTW’s activities in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science, they see a range of paths and possibilities they can look forward to in high school and beyond.
Students discover the design process and develop an understanding of the influence of creativity and innovation in their lives. They are then challenged and empowered to use and apply what they’ve learned throughout the unit to design a therapeutic toy for a child who has cerebral palsy.
Students learn about the history and impact of automation and robotics as they explore mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation, and computer control systems. Using the VEX Robotics® platform, students apply what they know to design and program traffic lights, robotic arms, and more.
This unit will expose students to computer science as a means of computationally analyzing and developing solutions to authentic problems through mobile app development, and will convey the positive impact of the application of computer science to other disciplines and to society.
The exciting world of aerospace comes alive through Flight and Space. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test an airfoil.
Science impacts the technology of yesterday, today, and the future. In this unit, students apply the concepts of physics, chemistry, and nanotechnology to activities and projects, including making ice cream, cleaning up an oil spill, and discovering the properties of nano-materials.
Students play the role of real-life medical detectives as they collect and analyze medical data to diagnose disease. They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, measure and interpret vital signs, dissect a sheep brain, investigate disease outbreaks, and explore how a breakdown within the human body can lead to dysfunction.
Science instruction at Forest Heights STEM Academy will utilize Pearson Interactive Science curricula, a standards based, next generation elementary and middle grades program that teaches science topics which are introduced and underscored through three pathways to learning - reading, inquiry, and digital.
Students in all grades will utilize Learning.com EasyTech online curriculum to gain basic technological literacy. Lessons are appropriate for K through 8th grade students and address topics of mouse basics, keyboarding, internet and email use, word processing, spreadsheets, data management, visual mapping, graphics, presentations, and web design. The curriculum includes activities, lessons, practices, and discussions designed to allow educators to merge technology training and instruction into language arts, math, science, and social studies while encouraging higher-order thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration. Every Forest Heights STEM Academy 4th-8th Grader will be provided a Chromebook. This 1:1 technology initiative which will lead the educational transformation from using technology as an isolated instructional tool to redefine instructional strategies. The end goal is to increase student achievement as students learn the language of technology, utilize and exhibit 21st Century technology skills.
Engineering education at the STEM Academy will center on Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Gateway to Technology (GTT) program for middle school students and LAUNCH elementary component. LAUNCH elementary engineering curriculum teaches the foundational science behind engineering concept and design. Activities and projects lead students through the process of asking questions, exploring ideas, and solving problems. Units are formatted in modules aligned to grade levels and some are outlined below.
The math program will be problem-based and rigorous. It will be aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Students will be challenged to make sense of new mathematical ideas through problem-solving, explorations, and projects. Written and oral communication of mathematics will be a strong focus. Grades 6, 7, and 8: Glencoe Math Courses 1, 2, and 3, the 7th Grade Accelerated Course and 8th Grade Algebra 1 are the primary resources for grades 6-8. Students have the ability to access their books online as well as activities, games, puzzles, software, and homework help.
The core literacy curriculum incorporates the adopted resources from Step Up to Writing by Maureen Aumen. These resources are used to provide instructional lessons which are aligned to the CCSS and paced appropriately for each grade level.The core literacy program is aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. Attention will be given to global STEM needs in the Information Age in order to prepare our future workforce and create scientifically literate citizens.
The social studies program will provide authentic learning that will prepare students to identify, understand, and work to solve the challenges facing our diverse nation in an increasingly interdependent world. The curriculum ensures students acquire and learn to use skills, knowledge, and attitudes that provide the foundation for them to become competent and responsible citizens. Grades K-8 integrate content from all the social studies disciplines to include history, economics, geography, and political science. Focusing on the core social studies disciplines, it will include materials drawn from the arts, sciences, and humanities, from current events, from local examples and from students’ lives. The focus for instruction will be on active learning that requires students to work individually and collaboratively, using rich and varied sources, to reach understandings, make decisions, discuss issues and solve problems.
Art and Music
Art and music education at Forest Heights STEM Academy will encompass traditional activities such as choir and band as well as technology-based experiences. All students will gain exposure and experiences to familiarize them with graphic arts and design as applied arts.
English Language Learner Support
English Learners enrolled at Forest Heights STEM Academy (K-8) will receive core instruction from ESL endorsed teachers. Teachers will differentiate instruction to match individual student levels of English proficiency (based on English Language Proficiency Assessments). Teachers will ensure that students are meeting and exceeding individualized proficiency goals while meeting the objective of the Forest Heights STEM Academy Program.
Special Education Services
The use of technology in classrooms is proven to be beneficial to students with disabilities. Assistive technology is widespread in schools and through the use of iPads and computers; applications are easily accessed thus allowing teachers to personalize lessons for disabled students and differentiate instruction. Often times, students with disabilities have enhanced technology skills and are drawn to computers and gadgets; therefore having devices in the classroom makes perfect sense.
For students with physical disabilities, technology gives access to learning opportunities previously closed to them. Technology such as e-readers help students turn pages without applying dexterity and voice adaptive Apps help student participate orally during projects and group discovery activities. Technology in the schools can help students with disabilities and all students in problem-solving, discovery, and exploration. The STEM approach and engineering components put emphasis on the process and design of solutions (hands-on step-by-step process). This approach allows students to explore mathematics and science in a more personalized, applicable context, much like the adapted curriculum for disabled students which helps students to develop critical thinking skills that can be applied to all facets of their work and academic lives.