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February 13, 2012

STEAM ACADEMY – An Innovative Approach to Global Education

by Heidi Zeigler Twitchell

STEAM ACADEMY is an innovative, progressive, online k-12 school of creativity, ingenuity and global awareness.  Through our model curriculum of integrated fine arts and technology, project-based, collaborative learning, international student collaboration and unique focus on service oriented living, institutions of learning, educators, parents, and all who implement STEAM ACADEMY methods and resources will in effect, foster student creativity, expression, cultural perspective and global competence.

STEAM students will grow tremendously as their teachers deliver enriched, individualized and engaging instruction while paying special attention to the skills students will need to become successful and fulfilled adults of the 21st century.  STEAM ACADEMY gives teachers and schools the tools necessary to create a place of learning that is a reflection of the world at large – a microcosm of the world at large – preparing students not only for what life will bring but more importantly, preparing them to be resourceful, proactive leaders and global “solutionaries.”

Breadth of Courses

At the heart of STEAM ACADEMY is the full infusion of the visual and performing arts, innovative technology integration and a strategic focus on STEM learning.  Of equal significance to our model is the skill development and facilitation of knowledge and perspective in the social studies, language arts and humanities.  We are dedicated to offering a wealth of choices and opportunities for students to cultivate their talents and to creatively express their passions.  All genres of music, dance, drama and visual arts augment the instructional methods of both required and supplemental curricular studies.

A wide variety of elective classes are suggested and encouraged at the elementary, middle and high school levels, along with KID STEAM, our multifaceted before and after school enrichment program.  STEAM ACADEMY offers specialized courses of study to elementary, middle and high school students that can be implemented in any school, anywhere.

Of particular interest is our focus on personal health, environmental consciousness and global responsibility.  Courses, instructional methods, required projects and expectations of staff and student behaviors encourage and lead students to develop livestyles that promote their physical, social and emotional well-being.  Such facets of STEAM ACADEMY education also promote philosophies and practices necessary to ensure the revitilization and preservation of our earth and its inhabitants.  Integrated learning experiences propel understanding and ignite innovation in areas including multiple branches of the Social Sciences, Natural Resource Conservation, Alternative Energy, Alternative Fuels, Clean Technology, Earth-Friendly Practices and more.

Proven pedagogical practices are employed by teachers using STEAM ACADEMY’S global education model.  These instructional approaches provide students with opportunities to learn curricular material with the depth and breadth that is vital to student’s ability to apply new understanding.  Students have heightened engagement and motivation to learn, as evidenced by the students who have attended educational institutions that implement our approaches.  Such strategies include, but are not limited to, project-based, collaborative learning and experiential learning, implemented “through and by” the fine arts and with the strategic, integral use of advanced digital and environmental technologies.

Ecologically Responsible – Clean Technology

In efforts to further prepare STEAM students for success in the 21st century, THE STEAM ACADEMY is dedicated to the advancement of ecologically responsible practices and the development of related, cost-effective, innovative systems and clean technologies.  When possible, schools having partnered with solar power companies will benefit from their facilitation and augmentation of student learning in solar energy through resident workshops and sponsored courses.  SSI is to facilitate student studies in the advancement of biotechnology and will utilize available alternative fuels for any related needs.  We will take another position on clean technology via water quality, as we encourage patron schools to incorporate the Keystone Flow water purification system into their campus water treatment facilities.  Keystone Flow technology improves water quality while consuming an unprecedented minimum of energy, enabled by its unique DNA-helix-shaped flow.  The life-symbolizing shape of DNA captivates people of all ages and sets the stage for further engagement in learning, research and responsibility, while also opening the door to preparatory study in mining, energy, and aerospace.

Learning is in the Way You Live

When possible, STEAM ACADEMY encourages schools, educators and other entities implementing our model to create an ambiance conducive to an environment of creativity and innovation.  Higher order thinking, creativity, ingenuity – the energy involved in a place of such cultural and societal advancement – will be essential attributes to the integrity of STEAM ACADEMY.  Advanced research teams have shown that aesthetics and ambiance actually serve to cultivate creativity and inventiveness, and this represents the values of THE STEAM TEAM.

Encouraging healthy lifestyle is also core to our philosophy.  Along with learning and implementing earth-friendly practices, we encourage schools to offer comprehensive meal options based on relevant cultural traditions and dietary values.  Students are required to engage in daily exercise.  For any learning to be sustained, it must be taught with relevance, whereby students come to understand the personal value and importance of their studies, practices and expectations.  STEAM educators must have a thorough understanding of this concept and reflect this in their instructional practices.

Not Just a School – A Hub

STEAM schools will work in partnership with local, national and international industry, willing university sectors and the local community.  These partnerships will foster project and inquiry-based learning activities that promote social and emotional growth, in programs ranging from fine arts to advanced technology.  Such inquiry / problem-based learning strategically facilitates mathematical thinking, and develops in students core engineering concepts and skills.

By design, our model requires that students are taught with balance of pedagogy- collaborative problem solving and inquiry must be equally balanced with direct instruction of core concepts, skills and basal knowledge.  Such balance is necessary for efficiency, effectiveness and accuracy in other learning activities and is also required for the solidification of student understanding and academic concept mastery.  Still highly relevant and beneficial to direct instruction approaches is our commitment to the full infusion of the fine arts and technology.

Facilitating a culture of creative expression, innovation and invention results in students having strength of character who achieve academically, thrive socially, and who possess the very skills pursued by the 21st century professional arena.  Collaborative and creative pursuits lead to social health, strong leadership, integrity, compassion, motivation, dedication, responsibility, intuitive interpersonal perception and perspective… the list literally perpetuates.  Furthermore, students will gain confidence, pride, encouragement, and continual motivation as they are given avenues to express, to create, to invent, and to succeed.

STEAM ACADEMY provides teachers with the tools to endow students with a tremendously enriched educational and personal development experience.  Students graduate having immovable, strong moral character, unparalleled social strength, leadership skills based upon both humility and confidence, highly valuable, intuitive interpersonal perception and global awareness bringing the perspective necessary to contribute to the progress and advancement of the world which we share with now over seven billion individuals. STEAM students leave their K-12 experience enlightened, enriched and genuinely motivated for lifetime learning.  They enter the world having achieved excellence in academics, entrepreneurial thinking, problem solving, critical thinking and engaged social responsibility.  Their personally developed attributes – confidence, motivation, optimism, problem-solving, service orientation, mutual respect, compassion, moral integrity, social responsibility, global consciousness, environmental awareness – along with related, instilled habits for personal, community and globally healthy living – effectively prepare young people for a life of success and fulfillment in the 21st century.

MODEL SCHOOLS

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