Kids learn agriscience through the study of STEM


| Dundee Elementary Academy helps students embrace agriculture with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math |

WHAT WOULD YOU GET if you crossed a rabbit, a chicken, and a gaggle of kindergarteners? You would have a group of students so excited that they do not even realize that they are learning. At Dundee Elementary Academy, students from kindergarten to fourth grade have the opportunity to work with not only small animals, but also a state of the art garden, all while learning what it means to be a productive citizen in a global society.

Dundee Elementary Academy (DEA), formally Dundee Elementary, opened in the fall as a magnet school with a focus on agricultural science through the study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). It is located in a rural part of Polk County between Orlando and Tampa. The school is part of a multimillion-dollar federal grant to create a continuous K-8 program located on the east side of Polk County. Part of the funding is used to give students and staff access to a variety of technologies such as iPads, iPods, wireless microscopes, and probes. Dundee Elementary Academy also is exploring the possibility of becoming an IB school and will apply for candidacy in April 2015. Once accredited, DEA will be the only elementary school on the east side of the county that offers International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme.

The students at DEA have the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art outdoor classroom recently installed by Double Thumb Growing Solutions and Evergreen Irrigation. The classroom has four tables and an outdoor chalkboard, which allows teachers to extend the learning past the walls of their normal classroom. Instead of looking at a picture or watching a video to see how plants are pollinated, students are able visit the outdoor classroom to see the butterflies and other insects moving the pollen around. They can then use the wireless microscope to see the pollen on the legs of the insects. Students are able to learn math skills in the outdoor classroom as well. Teachers can use the plants to teach students how to collect data and then translate the numbers into charts or graphs. They also can use the plants to help students learn how to use measurement instruments like rulers, the ph scale, and thermometers.

At DEA, students in kindergarten through second grade attend STEM class for 40 minutes, once a week. Third- and fourth-grade students attend STEM classes for 80 minutes, once a week. During this time, the STEM teacher introduces them to the engineering process and proposes challenges that require students to put into practice what they are learning.

The school is now accepting applications for the 2015-16 school year. Please visit https://magnet.polk-fl.net/app_1 to apply. If you are interested in learning more about DEA or taking a tour, please contact the school at (863) 421-3316.

CREDIT

article by JENNIFER DETTLING