Four Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese of Cleveland are among the most recent educational institutions statewide to receive designation as STEM schools by the Ohio Department of Education. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.
Mater Dei Academy in Wickliffe; St. Ambrose School, Brunswick; St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception School, Avon; and St. Sebastian School, Akron all received the designation.
Mater Dei is the second school in Lake County to earn the STEM designation. School officials said the honor demonstrates that the school has provided evidence of solid and growing STEM experiences across the curriculum.
The school’s STEM/STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics)-focused partnerships with Lakeland Community College, Community Bus Service, Wickliffe Forever and Progressive Insurance, as well as its collaboration with other business and community groups, provides a solid educational experience for its students, school officials added.
STREAM schools offer the same project-based learning as STEM schools, with the addition of religion and art. They are certified by the diocese.
St. Ambrose is the first school in Medina County to achieve the STEM designation. School officials said the designation recognizes he existing and emerging initiatives throughout the school and in the community. The honor also is a catalyst to continue challenging the St. Ambrose students, faculty and partners for continuous improvement, they added.
STEM Accelerated Coding, the Ohio STEM Impact Network, Bob Gillingham Ford, Cisco, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Community College, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hyland Software, Rockwell Automation, Brownstone Realty, Medina Animal Vet, United Cerebral Palsy, Fidelis Accounting and Consulting, the Cleveland Sight Center, Alphaport Inc., the Cleveland Metroparks and Solutions Behavioral Health are among St. Ambrose School’s STEM partners and collaborators.
To help celebrate its STEM designation, St. Ambrose will host a Family STEM Night Open House 5:30-7:30 p.m. April 27 at the school, 923 Pearl Road, Brunswick. There will be hands-on STEM activities for the whole family.
Colleen Schager, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception principal, said her school spent months preparing for its STEM certification. She said their next goal is seeking STREAM certification, which she said would make St. Mary’s the first school in the diocese to achieve both designations.
St. Mary’s plans to partner with institutions of higher learning and businesses including the Cleveland Clinic, Shearer Equipment – a John Deere supplier, St. Edward High School, Lorain County Community College and Cleveland State University to help challenge students to use problem-solving skills and to integrate religious curriculum and Catholic values through STEM innovation.
St. Sebastian School spent the past few years securing funds and materials to support its STEM program and to provide opportunities for professional development for faculty members. September Spectacular, the school’s largest fundraiser, generated money that allowed the purchase of robots, drones, gravity racing cars and other learning tools for the STEM curriculum.
Last year, the school raised money to invest in an Innovation Lab. The space will become a hub for student-centered, STEM-based collaboration where students are challenged to be creative, take risks, experiment, prototype and let their curiosity guide their discoveries.
According to state education department officials, STEM education has evolved into a unique approach to teaching and learning that fosters creativity and innovative thinking in all students.
The Ohio STEM Network began with support from Battelle and the Ohio Business Roundtable, which joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the state of Ohio and other partners and stakeholders to create the nation’s first network for STEM education.
In 2007, then-Gov. Ted Strickland signed a bill that allocated $13 million to establish STEM schools and programs throughout the state. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded a $12 million grant to help expand the STEM Network. And in 2008, the Ohio Business Roundtable, Battelle and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with state officials, announced the creation of the Ohio STEM Learning Network with five schools.
Thirty applications were received from schools seeking STEM designation this year, with a dozen earning the distinction. To date, 47 schools around the state have earned STEM designation.
The STEM network is managed by Battelle, an independent, nonprofit research institute based in Columbus.