CRES named STEM award winner
CROSBY--Cuyuna Range Elementary School in Crosby was named the winner of the inaugural 2018 STEM Innovation Award, presented by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association in partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota.
CROSBY-Cuyuna Range Elementary School in Crosby was named the winner of the inaugural 2018 STEM Innovation Award, presented by the Minnesota Elementary School Principals' Association in partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota.
CRES Principal Kurt Becker and staff have spent the past few years creating and implementing one of the best STEAM, the science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs in the state, a news release stated.
"In winter of 2014, it started with a four-week after-school engineering class that drew a grand
total of seven students," Becker stated in the release. "Even though the turnout was less than ideal, we knew we were on to something. We started our STEAM initiative when we recognized the need to supplement our core classroom instruction with programming that would help students further their skills in communication, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking and perseverance; the skills employers will be looking for."
Since that time, CRES's STEAM program has grown to include all 536 kindergarten through sixth-grade students during the school day, and more than 100 students in their after-school and summer programs.
"In a strong group of applicants, Cuyuna Range Elementary School's program really stood out," Jon Millerhagen, executive director of MESPA, stated in the release. "Principal Becker and the other leaders at CRES are at the forefront of a movement that is rethinking how we teach STEM at the elementary level. We need new ideas, creativity, and open-mindedness as we look to prepare our students for a future that is always changing. The CRES program displays just that. We are excited to name CRES the inaugural winner of the STEM Innovation Award, and hope that they will serve as a model for other schools around the state and beyond."
CRES's STEAM approach is a two-pronged program that includes a "tech and innovation" class as part of their rotation as well as an after-school and summer program called "Bright Futures," which features activities such as FIRST LEGO League, Rocketry Club, Destination Imagination and Camp Invention.
The program's impact has taken many forms. Staff have noticed an increase in the number of STEM career and topic books being checked out from the library.
Becker stated: "One story that has stuck with us involves a former student who was in sixth grade when the program started. While at CRES, this student took an interest in CAD (computer-aided design) and 3-D printing. Any chance he had, he was in our Creative Cafe designing and printing. This was a student who struggled in the traditional classroom. His grades were not reflecting his ability and he had little interest in traditional schooling.
"One day, he approached Ms. Allison Larsen, the tech and innovation teacher, and said he now knew what he wanted to do with his life, to become a biomedical engineer. Ms. Larsen talked to him about his dream and impressed upon him the need to work hard in the core subjects as well. He found a new purpose to schooling. Fast forward two years and Ms. Larsen ran into him at the Crosby-Ironton Middle School, where he asked if she would do him a favor. He wanted to send her plans for something to be printed on the 3-D printer. It ended up being a prototype for an invention he was in the process of pursuing a patent for. Without our STEAM initiative, none of this would have happened."
"We're absolutely thrilled," Crosby Superintendent Jamie Skjeveland stated. "Not only with
our STEAM initiative but also with the recognition we're receiving from the Minnesota
Elementary School Principals' Association and Science Museum of Minnesota. Our staff and the
local community are so supportive of our schools and programs. To be recognized at the state
level is just icing on the cake."
Becker, CRES staff and district administration will be recognized Feb. 8 at the MESPA
Institute awards banquet in Bloomington. Joanne Jones-Rizzi, vice president of STEM Equity and Education at the Science Museum of Minnesota, will present the award.