Advice on Starting STEAM Related Classes

To say the least, my school district is lacking in STEAM education. While we have established FRC, FTC, FLL, and Science Olympiad teams, we have no distinct programs in our curriculum.

Our team would like to venture into starting STEAM classes at our school, and our first choice is introducing a programming class of sorts at our high school and potentially our middle school. For teams who have already accomplished this challenge, what advice do you have as to bring the proposition to the school board or to actually developing the curriculum?

As a long time teacher
I would recommend Project Lead the Way for STEAM curriculum.
at the high school level they have three programs; Engineering, Biomed, and Comp Sci. The engineering is particularly strong with college credit & scholarships available. All of the Engineering courses in California are counted as Honors classes.
Middle schools there is the gateway program
Elementary is Launch.

Jack Gillespie

For teaching programming, consider the AP Computer Science A path. There are plenty of established websites such as edhesive and CodeHS which have predefined modules that will help you and your students learn effectively. After taking the course this year I am confident in my programming skills and believe it to be one of the best ways to introduce students to real programming.

For Engineering, specifically CAD, I’ve heard great things about the PLTW curriculum and its specificity in teaching Inventor. There is also predefined curriculum for Onshape, if that’s something you specialize in.

Make sure your school already has a position for a teacher that specializes in not only teaching but has prior experience in either or both of these fields. As a student who has experienced good teachers with no industry experience, good engineers with no teaching experience, and people who have both - it pays dividends to wait for the right person. Obviously these are school district level decisions, but the desire to push for STEAM programs in your local area schools is entirely up to the community.

Okay, YES. I’ve been part of the PLTW courses since my freshman year. Engineering Pathway. Started Freshman year with a whole lot of inventor and CAD. The class was Introduction to Engineering Design. Sophmore year was a lot of calculations and VEX programming and building. It was called Principles of Engineering. This year was Aerospace Engineering. I know other schools have different programs like Biomed and stuff like that but I am so happy they choose Aerospace. It’s become my favorite class in high school. Next year is a capstone course where we’ll solve an everyday problem with engineering ideas we have developed over the last 3 years. I’m excited!!
I so recommend this program. If it’s possible to get into it or get it at your school, DO IT. You won’t regret it.

I’m taking AP Computer Sci A next year, so I have no idea right now how it’ll be. I’m excited though!

I teach at a district that has PLTW k12. I think it is a good program. Also in MN you can get college credit for almost all PLTW classes. I will require teachers to be trained and there is a cost to the district for this. It is worth some research.

I completely understand. The problem is finding a teacher who can teach computer science. Computer Science is signficiantly under represented in STEM because of this in High School. I am a Regional Manager for TEALS, it is a national initiative funded by microsoft to help schools build and grow computer science programs. This year, we are in 350 high schools across the country and next year we will be in over 500.

There is a lot of information on our website here:

If you use the contact page, it will route your questions to the closest regional manager to you in the country.

I am a student who just finished taking a PLTW class and signed up for another. Highly recommend at my High School. I don’t know how much of this falls on our great teacher or the PLTW curriculum!

Thank you all so much! Our team has been hoping to establish classes for a while now - I’m really excited to be the one bringing this up to the school board (hopefully this summer)! :smiley: