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Students in Idaho are currently assessed on the Science ISAT in grades 5 and 7, and on their End of Course Exam after high school biology or chemistry. When it comes to the on the state science assessment, LPOSD testing results are relatively flat. On the Idaho Standards Achievement Test in Science (Science ISAT), these have been our students’ testing results:

  • 66 percent of LPOSD students scored proficient in Spring of 2016
  • 67 percent of LPOSD students scored proficient in Spring of 2017
  • 65 percent of LPOSD students scored proficient in Spring of 2018
  • Spring 2019 – TBD

Southside Elementary focuses on STEAM, adding Arts to the ever-important combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. While engineering activities develop analytical skills, activities like creating music and drawing develop problem-solving skills critical to a future in science and engineering. STEAM directly and positively impacts student achievement in science. To that end, our school district must have an up-to-date science curriculum which will better serve our students’ needs. 

At Southside Elementary School, teachers have attempted to develop a new curriculum on their own however it has proven to be labor-intensive. Despite these issues, Southside has been a pioneer in the school district in providing STEAM education to students. Parents have strongly indicated they want the school to continue providing STEAM programs, saying, “STEAM Thursdays are their children’s favorite day.” But Southside Elementary lacks the necessary school-wide curriculum that covers all of the STEAM foundations and is also progressive in skill and content development. 

SmartLabs will provide this curriculum and assessment. And a partnership between the Equinox Foundation, PAFE and LPOSD is proud to provide the funds to help purchase science kits for students at Southside Elementary School. 

Congratulations to grant writer Kathleen Mulroy and LPOSD Curriculum Director, Andra Murray, for their collaboration on this effort. 

SmartLabs STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) program includes curriculum and kits for 150 students in grades K – 6 and training for 16 teachers/staff. 

After thorough research, the group determined SmartLabs is the best STEAM curriculum program on the market. It also aligns with Idaho State Core Standards and matches their vision for a STEAM program at Southside Elementary. SmartLabs is designed to challenge students to a higher level of thinking in the STEAM areas. These science/engineering lessons are designed as 60+ minute lessons and assessments. Hands-on kits provide experience in circuitry, computer graphics, digital communications, mechanics and structural engineering, robotics, and control technology, scientific data and analysis, software engineering, mathematics, and sustainability. Additionally, SmartLabs will encourage personalized learning for students so they may pursue their own interests and utilize their own learning styles. 

The Need for STEAM

There is a high need for STEAM programs in rural communities like ours, where students often do not have much exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These are all areas that are crucial for many students’ success in the postsecondary world. 

An up-to-date science curriculum will ensure our students are taught hands-on, engaging lessons that meet our Idaho State standards.  If we want our students to succeed in a fast-paced, technology-infused, global economy, they need to become problem-solvers, effective collaborators, and good communicators, and become adaptable and independent lifelong learners.

The SmartLabs program – which is being used successfully in the Mead School District in Washington State, among others – will help our Southside Elementary students, and, potentially, students throughout the school district, develop these abilities along with essential STEAM skills.

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