Students in grades 5-8 at Churchville-Chili Middle School are in the middle of an educational sea change. They are primed to be a generation that values exploration, creativity and new ideas above memorization and multiple choice. The opportunities for learning at these grade levels are exciting.
The Career Connections program introduces students to a wide variety of career options, which they can discover with visiting professionals. Fields have included electronics, robotics, communication, agriculture, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, entertainment, food science, architecture, law and public safety. This year’s first sessions featured high school visitors: members of the FirstRobotics Team 340, and BOCES 2 Career and Technical Education student experts who helped younger students understand currents and circuitry and manufacturing processes.
Teachers and STEM coaches have developed a range of creative Project Based Learning (PBL) approaches to teaching. The purpose, said teacher Josie Cancilla-Spadafora, is that “by teaching grade-level standards in engaging ways and preparing kids to be resilient and open to new ideas, we give them the tools they need to make the impossible possible.”
Projects have included designing magnetic levitation systems, testing water and building better water filters, raising healthy trout and studying stream ecology, learning algebra with math manipulatives, and creating working solar cookers.