(CBS DETROIT) – Exploring science with a hands-on approach, one Detroit school recently launched a new program to increase equitable access to high-quality science curriculum, focusing on integrating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) practices into their classrooms.

Grand River Academy, part of National Heritage Academies’ (NHA) network of schools across the country, launched a new STEM-focused program, which is vital to sparking students’ interest in STEM fields later in life. A recent study found that scientists’ initial interest in the subject is most often sparked before they enter middle school.

“Making science and math available to all students is my passion,” said Ralph Garza, principal at Grand River. “Children are naturally curious. I encourage students to always pursue that curiosity.”

STEM courses build on the objectives of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by incorporating hands-on activities into science curriculum. Grand River’s science instruction focuses on the 5E Model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate), which provides students with hands-on opportunities to learn new ideas.

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STEM-based curriculum helps prepare students for a successful career later in life. The number of STEM jobs has grown by 79% since 1990, and data indicates that this trend will not slow. Matt Bremenour, K-8 science teacher at Grand River explained that sharing STEM concepts leads to kids realizing a career path they may not have known about.

“STEM provides many opportunities for students to get an idea of what they want to do in the future,” said Bremenour. “I’ve found that students are really into these concepts.”

During the pandemic, Grand River’s hands-on STEM learning became more creative. By creating lessons that are feasible at home, Bremenour worked to find activities that were accessible to all students.

“We continue to teach the population that science and math are something they can pursue,” shared Garza. “Science is available to everyone. We continue finding creative ways that kids can use household products to integrate science.”

On National STEM Day, celebrated annually on Nov. 8, students are encouraged to take on these concepts, igniting their interest even while away from the classroom.

About National Heritage Academies:
National Heritage Academies is a network of 90 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.

SOURCE National Heritage Academies

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