STEAM Aviation Station
Sycamore Community Schools has rolled out a first-of-its kind classroom on wheels aimed at getting kids excited about science and math.
The Sycamore STEAM Aviation Station gives students the opportunity to explore science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) opportunities both at school and in their neighborhoods.
“We are proud to offer stimulating and innovative educational opportunities for all students,” said Frank Forsthoefel, superintendent. “Our goal is to prepare our students for future careers in these growing fields.”
The decommissioned school bus turned mobile classroom provides STEAM-related activities for students in grades kindergarten through sixth. It visits each of Sycamore’s four elementary schools and E.H. Greene Intermediate during the school day, where teachers can book time for their classes to jump on board. A group of Sycamore Schools teachers, known as the STEAM Team, have created age-appropriate curriculum for their colleagues to use during each school visit.
Four days a week, teachers travel to local neighborhoods on board the Aviation Station to provide homework help after school. The bus is equipped with wifi so that students who may not have internet access at home are able to connect for free.
The Aviation Station is also equipped with touchscreen monitors, virtual reality equipment and other STEAM-related instructional materials like Keva planks for building, Raspberry Pi computers to teach programming, Breakout Edu kits, and Makedo tools for creative cardboard construction projects.
“Through our STEAM offerings and activities, our students are learning to become problem solvers, innovators, inventors, and critical thinkers,” said Karen Naber, assistant superintendent. “They also learn the importance of collaboration, cooperation, and communication through project-based learning.”
The district began transforming a decommissioned school bus into a mobile classroom during the 2016-2017 school year. Sycamore High School engineering, architecture, and graphic design students played a critical part in the design process.
“This has been a great project-based learning experience for our high school students,” said Naber. “From coming up with activities kids can do on the bus to creating furniture and designing the way the bus looks, the students just ran with it.”
The project was made possible by generous donations from community members and local businesses. Sycamore Schools was also able to secure grant money to fund the Aviation Station.
Check out this Local 12 story about the STEAM Aviation Station.