At Rowntree Montessori Schools, we believe that as 21st century educators, it is our responsibility to equip our students with the knowledge and skill set that will prepare them for a fulfilling future and give them tools for solving problems when they arise. We do this by presenting students with a monthly STEM-Challenge box, that within it contains a real-life situation or problem that they need to solve. Students are instructed to complete a task, for example design a cleanup mechanism to solve the problem of water pollution, using basic materials such as duct tape, popsicle sticks, paper clips or other.
Each student is expected to collaborate with his or her peers to devise a creative solution to the problem, that will be judged each month by a panel of teachers. Our goal with these challenges, is to offer our students opportunities to develop their critical thinking skills, make decisions independently and collaborate with one another to find solutions to real-world problems. These challenges are a good first step to foster an interdisciplinary way of thinking about global issues. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving, and as a component of what we teach, is taking our students’ level of learning and preparation for life, to the next level.
In October, students were asked to design a structure that could transport people from Downtown Toronto to the Toronto Islands. One of the criteria was that the structure needed to be strong and stable enough to support a class novel (with the novel representing one family of people). Each class found a different, and at least somewhat effective, solution, and all projects were displayed in the hallway at the end of the month. The image below shows students in the research and design stage of their challenge, as they engineer a structure for people to travel across Lake Ontario.
Utilizing a STEM approach to learning develops much more than a student’s problem solving, decision making and critical thinking skills. It shapes our students into persevering, committed and patient people who will embrace tomorrow’s challenges with flexible and open minds. Our students are currently working on a very timely and important problem: create a mechanism that can be used to extinguish large forest fires without causing significant damage to the environment. We encourage all students to keep thinking creatively to solve this problem, and we look forward to seeing the solutions you present!
To learn more about Rowntree Montessori Schools (RMS), continue browsing our website and ideally drop by any of our welcoming, friendly and family oriented campuses for a personal tour anytime Monday-Friday 9:30am-3:00pm. If you prefer, call to book an appointment for a personal tour anytime Monday-Friday 9:30am-3:00pm.