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To reduce the achievement gaps in areas of CSTEM (Communication, Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) through focused teacher training, experiential learning for students through practical application and exposure to careers in related communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields for grades preK-12.
Since 2002, CSTEM Teacher and Support Services has provided innovative and specialized services to teachers and students in areas of communication, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (CSTEM). As a 501 (c) (3) organization built on the belief that Everyone is an artist and an engineer, CSTEM’s mission is to close the achievement gaps in the instructional areas of CSTEM by developing teacher STEM content knowledge; enhancing STEM curriculum using real-world connections with scientists and other experts, making teaching and learning more relevant; increasing student engagement in hands-on, project- and problem-based learning; developing teacher and student mentors using collaborative projects; increasing the use of innovative resources and technology in the classroom; and increasing the quality and quantity of horizontal and vertical collaborative, team-based teaching--all to prepare students for our knowledge-based global economy.
CSTEM is the only program that utilizes a feeder pattern model (an elementary, middle, and high school collaborative pipeline of schools that "feeds" students from one level to the next) to develop teacher content knowledge and increase student participation in STEM. The galvanizing component of CSTEM’s model, around which all STEM teacher-training activities are focused, is the highly motivating, project- and problem-based CSTEM Challenge.
The CSTEM Challenge has a rich history with over five years of connecting each component of the challenge to solving global problems and evoking change over 30-36 weeks of an academic year. Learning is incorporated as part of school-day STEM coursework or as after school or Saturday enrichment activities. The students then compete in the CSTEM Challenge competition, in which they enter their artifact solutions developed in alignment with the scoring rubric for each of the six challenges. Each challenge has rules and specifications, and each student-created artifact is scored on a predetermined rubric.
The six CSTEM Challenges currently engaging students across all age groups, grade levels, disciplines, and abilities are as follows:
1. Geographical Information Systems (GIS)--integrates STEM into communications, social studies, and English/language arts. Using oil spill trajectory data and sea turtle sightings data, students will create: 1) an oil spill containment strategy and 2) a sea turtle rescue strategy.
2. CSTEMgreen--integrates STEM into social studies, communications, fine arts, and English/language arts. Students work collaboratively to create a digital model using Google Sketch-up as well as a 3D model made from recycled materials of their oil spill containment and sea turtle rescue area.
3. Sea Turtle Sculpture--integrates STEM into communications, fine arts, and social studies. Students will create a geometrical art form of a rescued sea turtle sculpture using recycled/reused materials.
4. Mural--integrates STEM into communications, social studies, fine arts, and English/language arts. Students will draw inspiration from the masterpiece painting, "Quilting Party," created by Dr. John Biggers. The student masterpiece must tell a folktale through artistry that connects to the other challenges.
5. Creative Writing--integrates STEM into communications, social studies, fine arts, and English/language arts. Students will develop a series of illustrated pop-up books using digital fabrication and ZooBurst technology, which will bring their folktale to life.
6. CSTEM Robotics--a "pure" STEM challenge, named "Top Hats, Turtles, and Boom". It will illustrate the role robots can and do play in successful environmental management. In this challenge, students and teachers use robotics to manage both sea turtles and a nearby oil drilling rig with damaged risers.