In early May 2022, EntreEd awarded an ESTEAM Project mini-grant to Smokey Mountain Elementary in Jackson County, North Carolina for their ESTEAM Launch Day. Smokey Mountain Elementary educators, Eric Sink and Scott Miller, shared how the experiences impacted their students.
“As the science educator for 4th and 5th grade, I am very pleased with the accomplishments of my students regarding the STEAM program activities and products. For many students, the projects were difficult to complete. The steps taken to complete each project required independent thinking, processing of information to apply knowledge to find solutions, and persevering through trial and error to find solutions. Several of the 4th graders and some 5th graders were only successful in completing projects through a team approach. This is not to say that individuals that struggled did not gain an understanding of content and processes through their projects, but in the team approach, they completed projects that alone they would not have been able to complete.
The leadership provided by the middle school push-in “junior engineers” was recognized not only by me as an educator, but the 4th and 5th grade students looked to them for support and instruction. Many middle school students formally taught content and process for each of the projects. They additionally created scoring rubrics and evaluated objectively and subjectively the products created. These students did much more than cut tape or glue on fins, they planned, executed, and evaluated as any quality educational leader does each day.”
-Eric Sink, Smokey Mountain Elementary Science Educator
“From my perspective as an educator, the ESTEAM mini-grant provided many valuable learning opportunities for Smokey Mountain Elementary students. First, almost all of our 8th-grade students, and approximately half of our 7th-grade students had the opportunity to lead activities, events, and teach others. While leading these activities, fellow teachers had nothing but praise for the kids’ leadership skills. Additionally, the students reported they found the experience challenging, enjoyable, and exhausting, and many stated they had a new appreciation and respect for their teachers. The second great success was introducing 4th and 5th-grade students to such challenging STEM activities. Through their successes, failures, trials, and errors, these students had to build problem-solving skills, teamwork, and resilience. As these students move towards middle school, these valuable lessons will be integral for their future success. I think you would be hard-pressed to find a student or teacher who had a negative experience. Thank you very much for supporting STEAM and entrepreneurship at Smokey Mountain Elementary.”
-Scott Miller, Smokey Mountain Elementary Engineering Educator
ESTEAM mini-grants are an initiative of EntreEd’s Fostering Self ESTEAM in Appalachia’s Emerging Workforce project, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The project helps middle and high school programs in a seven-state region infuse Entrepreneurship into academic classrooms with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) initiatives. To learn more about the project, contact Amber Ravenscroft, ESTEAM Project Director, at email@example.com.