Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Student Profiling for STEM Success

Students at the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academy at Northwest High School started this school year with a project where their goal was to further define what it is to be a STEM student.  The project, Profile of a STEM Student, utilized NISD's own Profile of a Graduate as a starting point, but then elaborated and transformed the profile to their own definition for STEM students.  According to Jayden, a student in Mrs. Garrett's engineering class, "the NISD Profile of a Graduate was too broad for us, so this project helped us design one for STEM that was more specific to what we need to learn for college and our careers."
Project Notebooks

The project consisted of multiple parts: gathering information, generating categories for the profile, building their profile, designing a presentation, and giving the presentation in class.  "We documented every step of the process in our Project Notebooks," said Jayden, "including brainstorming, our presentation notes, and our categories that we designed for the profile."

The greatest part of the project was the opportunity for students to choose their own categories that they thought best exemplified the profile of a STEM student.  While some categories were required by the project instructions (core beliefs, mission, college and career readiness), the students got to choose three of their own, such as work-ethic, relationships, responsibilities, or anything else they thought was most important for them.  Chris and Matt, two students from the same group, explained to me some of their group's choices.  "STEM Academy classes use lots of Project Based Learning, so we chose what we thought was best for that."  For example, "we chose work-ethic as one of our categories because time management and working as a team on a project is important for getting things done, just like in a job."

Mrs. Garrett's class
After assembling their profiles, the groups presented their work to the class.  They also got to choose their presentation medium, as long as it was an online presentation.  Most groups chose to use Google Slides for their presentation.  "It's just easier to use and access," said Mark.  "Collaboration was important, and Slides allowed us to all work on the presentation at the same time."  All the presentations were judged by student peers, with senior students judging freshman projects, in order to give constructive feedback on their first ever STEM presentations.

For students, choice is important.  This project gave them a choice, not only in the project itself, but in creating the ideal profile for the rest of their school career as a STEM student.  Check out the links below to see the project instructions, the grading rubric, and some examples of the visual portion of the student presentations.

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