Elizabeth Buckley Middle School
STEaM & Inquiry Based Learning
EBS interweaves hands-on experiences designed to foster critical thinking skills, global citizenship, and literacy in the STEaM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the performing and fine arts). Currently, EBS offers education for grades kindergarten to grade 8 in multi-age settings.
Why EBS Middle School? What’s the difference?
Here are some differences between EBS and many traditional school programs:
Traditional Middle School
Elizabeth Buckley Middle School
|students grouped by age, placement not flexible||multi-age groups, grouping by shared interests|
|program taught in lock-step, timing often not ideal for many students (either pressure to keep up, or pace too slow)||program allows for learners to explore concepts when they are ready|
|emphasis on demonstrating knowledge primarily through written tasks||learners allowed multiple modes of demonstrating understanding of concepts, (e.g. invention, experimentation, social initiatives)|
|concepts may be “covered” in one way only||opportunities to explore and apply concepts in a number of different modes: hands-on, visual, auditory, kinesthetic|
|emphasis on memorization of facts – read and restate||emphasis on full engagement in learning using personal observations, connections, application of ideas in context|
|topics taught in isolation (e.g. math class, science class…)||concepts developed through connections across the curriculum (e.g. writing about science topics in language, studying patterning through art, music, math, etc.)|
|all subjects taught by classroom teachers with limited opportunities for “authentic” experiences||learners offered opportunities for interactions with expert mentors in subject areas|
Some other key attributes of our program:
- respect – educators and learners interact respectfully; it is part of the culture of the school
- inclusive – differences are honoured and embraced; learners with differences are included
- STEaM literacy – learners develop knowledge and skills through hands-on experiences that are built into the program
- global citizenship – learners develop an understanding about their impact in the school, in their community, in the world
- educator-to-learner ratio – our smaller class sizes and integrated education team provide the support learners need to be successful
- choice – the program includes many opportunities for learners to make meaningful choices about their program – this encourages independence and responsibility
- parents have the opportunity to be actively involved in the school and in their child’s education
- attention to emotional needs, mindfulness, sensory awareness, self-regulation
- coaching in effective communication and social skills, proactive approach to bullying
- staff are accessible to learners and their parents
- tuition includes a bus pass, YMCA membership
- opportunities to connect with PSII high school learners
STEM is an acronym for the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. At Elizabeth Buckley School, we believe that the arts are an integral part of every child’s learning, and we have added the “a” to create STEaM. By “arts” we mean Visual Arts, Music, Dramatic Play, social responsibility, global citizenship, and meaningful contributions in our community.
Our STEaM school provides an emphasis on discovery and exploration, with STEM subjects interwoven with literacy, humanities, and physical activity.
To see more of STEAM in action watch this video about the inclusion of STEaM in our classes.
Children are born scientists. They spend the first few years of their lives observing, experimenting, trying, failing, and trying again. The result is incredible development in the areas of language, perception, and problem-solving. When children enter a traditional school program, the focus often shifts away from independent thinking, problem-solving, and experiential learning in context to paper-and-pencil tasks that focus on finding the “right” answer. This inhibits risk-taking and independent thinking because children don’t want to be “wrong.” Children who are taught concepts in isolation find it difficult to engage in learning because they don’t see the relevance to their own lives. They learn “procedures” for skills like math, but don’t recognize how to apply them in real-world situations. The result is that many children find math intimidating, eventually dismissing the subject because they don’t consider themselves a “math person.” And this is often accepted. However, we would not accept if our children said the same about reading! With our increasing reliance on technology, technical literacy, critical thinking and the ability to problem-solve are skills that play a crucial role in a child’s long-term success. The most effective way to develop these skills is to engage children in real-world activities that allow them to build their understanding in meaningful contexts. The children love this type of learning and… (sshh!) often don’t see it as work!
We use STEaM in every part of our lives. It surrounds us in technology like WIFI, smartphones, and GPS systems for our cars. It helps us in daily activities like microwaving our meals, Googling concepts to help our children with their homework, and understanding feats of engineering. In addition, STEaM helps students learn how to be responsible citizens by contributing meaningfully to relationships with our elders, with people of all abilities, and with different cultures as we come together in the pursuit of education and community. STEaM lends itself to this and other elements of responsible stewardship, such as caring for the environment in activities such as growing our own food, recycling and using found objects in the creation of art projects.