Teaching At An Expeditionary STEM School
By Angelique Barnett
Amana Academy Charter School is an Expeditionary Learning school where students are encouraged to use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to focus on solving real-world problems. Amana started as a charter school in 2005 with a small group of students and a focus on environmental stewardship. Twelve years later, Amana has grown but classrooms are still small and the focus has remained with a theme of sustainability and service learning. I incorporate this philosophy into my STEM classes by teaching students to use the engineering design process to create solutions.
My teaching passion is exposing students to the possibilities. In one STEM class at Amana, a student may code a game to teach someone about biofuels while in another class students might use power tools to build a structure for the learning garden. Students have the opportunity to learn about different technology while making connections to their English, social studies, science and mathematics grade level standards. Students learn to use ingenuity to improve upon old ideas or create entirely new inventions. Amana students tackle local and global issues and learn that they are problem solvers.