Morning S.T.E.A.M. Program

STEAM: Science - Technology - Engineering - Art - Mathematics

Maker Space at the Media Center

     Piedmont Lakes Media Center has created a Maker Space within the Media Center. The program will help the students with a lot of hands on activities. Interactive stations have been placed in the Media Center. Chess games, checkers, Legos, robotics, science experiments, etc. are all available for the students. This is a place for ‘tinkering’. There will be a lot of DIY projects where collaboration among the students will be the goal of the program. There will be a lot of creation, building, crafting, and fun in our maker space. As an academic media center also, I want to continue to welcome students and faculty to continue to read, do their classwork and research.

     Piedmont has also begun a new S.T.E.A.M. program and Project Lead the Way.  This program focuses on science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities and lessons. We have partnered up with Wekiva High School and Northrop Grumman. This will provide our students with a multitude of variety within the extended hours. We will have Tutors, teachers, and volunteers available to help the students in a variety of ways.

     We have a 3-D printer, 3-D scanner, 2 interactive TV’s, a smart board, and brand new tables and chairs that can outfit a classroom of over 30 kids. We are hoping to utilize the new space in our media center to attract the students to come in and use our new stuff.

The program will open at 730 each morning. Each student who attends must have a morning pass given out ONLY by the morning club staff. This pass allows the students to enter the school at an early time in order to walk through campus and into the Media Center. Those who do not have a pass or have not been assigned a pass, are told or escorted back up to the front of the school. Our special programs ends around 830. Due to a large amount of kids and ongoing activities, the students are allowed to stay in the media center until School begins. At 900 breakfast begins, which the students can leave and have a well-balanced meal. The students that have entered the media center for the morning program are not allowed to leave during special programs for any reason except a signed pass from another teacher allowing them to come to their room for extra help, etc. We treat this program like any other classroom setting as we expect the kids to be engaged in different activities. We do not allow the students to come and go.

      Visitors to the media center at Piedmont Lakes Middle School in Apopka may no longer recognize the “school library” of the past. What was a quiet, restrained environment now bustles with activity throughout the day. The rows and rows of books are mostly gone, replaced by wide-open spaces which serve as communal areas for instruction and collaboration.

     “Students no longer look at the media center as a place just to check out books,” says Kimberly Bugar, the head of Piedmont’s media center. “We serve a larger purpose now. We are trying to help students gear up for the 21st century world.”

     The center serves as a gathering place for students in the hours before school. On any given morning, students can be found manning the computers which line the walls, sitting at tables working with tutors, receiving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) instruction from PLMS technology teacher John Mahoney, working on projects, reading, or challenging each other to chess games.

     Deep in thought at the computers and construction tables, some students already look like engineers in the making. Others are involved in less academically pursuits, like puzzles, checkers, and board games. “That’s okay,” says Ms. Bugar. “We want to get them in the door. Once they spend time looking at the other students in the STEM activities, often they get hooked and want to participate.”

     Throughout the day, the media center also serves as a meeting area for teachers and students working on special projects during regular classes and guest instructors. Recent visits by the John Young Planetarium and READing Paws are prime examples. “The people from the Science Center were great,” says Ms. Bugar. “Science classes from several of our grade levels were able to experience a solar system 3-D presentation. The companion dogs were a great way for some of our students to experience the reading therapy which the dogs can provide.”

     Piedmont’s Media Center is not your typical library. During our morning program, or during the day, there is always something exciting going on, whether it’s the 3-d printer making a Yoda model, or a class using a SKYPE presentation to talk to a scientist in Illinois. “It’s loud and not orderly at times,” Ms. Bugar says of her next-generation media center. “But we know it’s the right way to go. We must adjust to our 21st century students.”

How will it enhance student learning:

Our program will provide student enrichment. During this time, the children will be given many opportunities to participate in planned activities. The learning environment in the Media Center is equipped with multiple activities, and equipment to sustain a great learning environment. During their time here in the morning, the students will be able to learn to work in group activities, work alone, and establish relationships with other students