Mount Paran Christian School's STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) program recently demonstrated its dedication to project-based learning by hosting a STEAM Expo. Each division from preschool through high school has initiated an action plan in STEAM-related curriculum.

Students follow Project Lead The Way — an honors-level science and engineering program in grades K-12. Learning experiences are authentic, hands-on, and application-oriented. Students are engaged in absorbing the material as they become investigators, experimenters, designers, and creators.

The STEAM Expo required students to pick a topic, receive approval from a teacher, create a trifold, a pamphlet, and present their project in an interactive way. They were required to present their project numerous times as the visitors to the Expo stopped by their booths. The presentations helped improve public speaking skills and social interaction with their audience. Teaching someone else helps imprint your own knowledge.

Seniors Madison Flowers, Kamryn Kitchens, and McCartney Holland did their project on pGLO transformation. The pGlo plasmid DNA has the gene for antibiotic resistance, and it also causes bioluminescence. “We learned so much from this project. We didn’t realize how important plasmids are. The project showed us real-life applications,” Madison said.

Students Hannah Fitzgibbons and Catherine Ethridge showed the connection between art and chemistry. Art can be used as therapy, interior design, and storytelling, and it is all possible through the chemistry of pigment, binder, and solvent. Seniors Bailey Abel and Alicia Pitts worked on a genetics project. They showed the role of genes by allowing visitors to build an alien based on genes picked from cups.

Each display told the history behind the topic, the real-world connection and the process of making it work. The premise behind project-based learning is that it increases the students’ appreciation and evaluation of the material they are learning. The projects demand creativity and innovative thinking, and the process stimulates curiosity.

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