Earlier this year, Hickerson Elementary School became Coffee County’s first STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) School. Principal Jimmy Anderson hosted a presentation on Monday, May 20 to commemorate the honor.
A STEM School, developed in collaboration with the STEM Leadership Council and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, is designed to recognize schools that promote and implement rigorous STEM-related learning opportunities, according to a written statement sent by the Tennessee Department of Education.
“Why STEM?” Anderson asked, in reference to what he is commonly asked by community members. “My first response to that is you (the students).”
He explained he and his faculty believe STEM and project-based learning are the best kinds of education they can provide students. The work prepares them for middle school, high school and college by teaching them problem solving skills and to pay attention to detail to create a quality product.
At Hickerson, a team of faculty met for weeks to put together their application, explained Anderson. Once submitted, two state evaluators visited the school and were given a tour by student ambassadors.
Student ambassadors Bailey Kitts and Peyton Edberg shared their thoughts on STEM and project-based learning.
Edberg pointed out that Hickerson, a small school, is unique. The school is one in 11 schools that was given a STEM designation this year and one in 25 total schools in the state.
“We have the endurance and ability to do what bigger schools can do,” Edberg said.
Kitts added that she loves being able to learn something new and cool every day, including 3D printing, robotics and coding.
After the students spoke, Anderson took a moment to recognize some of the school’s community partners.
“Community partners are a vital piece of STEM,” he said.
To wrap up the event, Anderson had all of the student ambassadors line up in front of the school. He and assistant principal Kathy Crabtree unraveled the STEM School banner and Anderson got visibly emotional as he handed it to his students to hold.
“I am so proud…(Hickerson) is the first school in Coffee County to become a STEM school,” he said.