Between the end of one school year and the start of the next, every student risks "summer learning loss." Without appropriate academic stimulation, on average, the equivalent of one month of overall learning is lost over summer vacation. This phenomenon can be especially detrimental to low-income students, as they are less likely than their more advantaged peers to take enriching summer trips, to have access to enticing educational toys, or to engage in interactions that build their vocabularies and their general store of knowledge. Indeed, research demonstrates that summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap.
Although we have been offering summer learning for many years now, this year, we are absolutely thrilled to be launching our first-ever STEM-focused Summer Program. STEM education perfectly complements the Montessori approach to education, which is also dominated by project-based, experiential activities that encourage students to question, observe, investigate, and take charge of their learning.
We are incredibly fortunate that Angela McKinney, Ph.D., a professor of Biology at Nebraska Wesleyan University, has developed a tremendous STEM curriculum specifically for our MLK Montessori Summer Program! The curriculum includes a wide variety of age-appropriate and engaging activities focused on biology (e.g., isolating the DNA of a strawberry), chemistry (e.g., observing the movement of food color in different types of milk), engineering (e.g., constructing marshmallow and toothpick towers), and math (e.g., decoding). We will also be engaging students in a variety of food preparation and cooking activities (many of which will involve produce from our school garden!) to reinforce their STEM lessons.
We are hopeful that, by igniting our students’ passion for STEM at an early age, they will develop their confidence and possibly even go on to consider a career in STEM. In Indiana, the demand for STEM workers is tremendous, with 20 open STEM jobs for every qualified Hoosier—and this need is only expected to grow. By helping children build STEM skills, we are laying the foundation for their future success.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook (@MLKMontessoriSchool) to see photos and stories from this exciting new initative!