Tomorrow I am meeting with our Directors of Admissions & Marketing as well as several faculty about promoting our STEM(x) program. Our STEM program has changed over the last few years in many ways:
- Developed a robotics track in our school with the addition of our Middle School First Lego League team: STEAM Powered Girls. The girls won the "core values" award last year at the Pittsburgh FLL Grand Championship and 2nd place in research at a Regional. This year, they have won an honorable mention in programming at Regionals, two 1st place awards in the research category for their "Fire Communication Device" and a golden ticket to the Grand Championships on February 22, 2014
- We also hired a new teacher with a background in robotics & engineering
- Ellis still has the most girls in the region on the Girls of Steel - a Carnegie Mellon University FIRST Robotics team
- We have built on our successful Future Cites engineering team in the Middle School and also participated in the Design Lives Here engineering competition
- Used the Engineering is Elementary curriculum in Lower School and several other fun activities like "Squishy Circuits" and explored electronics.
- Developed a new Upper School engineering elective (full-year) co-taught by 4 teachers (myself, the above mentioned robotics teacher, our math department head and our physics teacher). In this elective we have used Design Thinking, our new 3D printer and have the girls working on community action project where they will get to use TechShop Pittsburgh this spring. We have two "clients" so far" The Pittsburgh Zoo and Phipps Conservatory. These girls also worked on engineering activities for Lower School Space Day and to develop an artificial limb in partnership with other schools and the Quality of Life Technology Center.
- We continue to build and integrate partnerships to create experiential learning opportunities for our girls. We currently have a number of strong STEM partners integrated into our core curricular program. Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy is woven into all levels of the school from 4th grade, to 6th and then again in 10th grade.
- Within our own walls we partner with faculty from our arts + humanities departments to develop rich collaborative experiences for our girls. Our Innovation Stations have featured many STEAM activities for girls to Tinker and Explore.
- We are also partnering with UPMC to remix and hack their "SMART" flu study and replicate it here at Ellis using Design Thinking. Our goal is to study how flu is spread at Ellis and develop process and products to limit exposure. We have some exciting things going on with the CMU CREATE Lab in our Voice & Vision class and in our Computer Science classes.
- Most recently we have begun to develop a partnership with the National Science Academies - Science Ambassadors Program, Chatham University's Environmental Sustainability Department and Magee Women's Research Institute.
- We joined the GAINS Network - as one the founding schools with the goal of exposing our girls to strong female role models in STEM.
- I also applied earlier this year to be a Center for STEM Education for Girls (out of Harpeth Hall School) Summer STEM Institute Replication Site - we were selected! This summer, our physics and engineering teacher and I will lead a the Tippy-Tap water project designing and testing prototypes of devices to make water fountains for the Lwala Community Alliance in Kenya.
Science & Math:
- We have hired several new faculty members and continued to infuse innovative teaching into our core science and math classes at all levels.
- This year we were awarded $50,000 from the Edward E. Ford Foundation to study how girls best learn science in our Upper School using "Active Learning." Our Active Classroom for Girls project signals a change in the way upper school science courses are taught. We are blending, flipping and collaborating using the latest technology and amazing flexible furniture that promotes nimbleness and flexibility. As a part of this project we are partnering with an award-winning STEM Professor at the University of Pittsburgh to conduct research, synthesize results (we believe girls will be more engaged and confident with our new Active Classroom approach) and present them through writing, media and other outreach.
- I applied and was selected as a Google Glass Explorer to study how to use Glass in our Active Classroom to create "LabCasts" and allow students to create first-person videos of their experience. We are just developing this right now in our physics class and believe this holds much potential to create agency among our girls.
- Big data is not just a buzz word. Ellis was asked to join the Pittsburgh Data Works consortium and participate in the first ever High School Big Data Jam. Starting this month Ellis will use data around a topic in our city to define and solve a problem. They will present their work in front of a forum of experts and the public in May.
- Our Upper School statistics class is exploring MOOCs and blended learning with students participating in Carnegie Mellon's Open Learning Initiative with the support of an on-ground teacher and other Ellis girls are taking Online School for Girls classes in AP Computer Science and AP Psychology.
- Yet again Ellis has won awards at the Math Modeling competition as a part of our multivariable calculus course in our Upper School.
- Both Math and Science teachers are integrating technology by creating screen casts with their Live Scribe Pens and through Microsoft One Note where they are then placed into our Learning Management System, Haiku Learning.
Ellis girls are changing the STEM equation by creating solutions, solving problems while collaborating with each other and contributing to the future!