Going Full STEAM Ahead

Going Full STEAM Ahead

San Marcos, CA - San Marcos Middle School (SMMS) has gone full STEAM ahead with the adoption of Project Lead the Way. A Career Technical Education (CTE) initiative, SMMS has incorporated engineering, robotics, programming, app creation, and digital arts into the curriculum that every student, except those in band, will take as technology electives.

Starting in 7th grade, SMMS students begin their education in app creation. Throughout the year, they move forward into design and modeling, preparing them for more sophisticated engineering pieces/robotics at the 8th grade level. With an introduction to graphic arts, digital photography and video, SMMS students are using the tools that they would see in high school, college, and at the professional level.

Starting as a pilot program at SMMS and San Elijo Middle this past November, a group of advanced CTE tech students became part of the League of Amazing Programmers. With a focus on coding itself, students have the opportunity to work once a week with current industry coders and learn the nuts and bolts of java programming.

The excitement from participating students has been palpable, according to Shannon Hobbs, Technology Teacher at SMMS. “The students come back in the next day, excited to tell their peers what they learned how to make and what they learned how to code,” stated Hobbs, “I see competition amongst themselves. They're loving it.”

The program, which began 10 years ago by a retired Navy pilot with a passion for teaching programming to kids, has grown to over 350, 5th - 12thgrade students from San Marcos down to central San Diego. The curriculum is geared towards helping students pass the AP Computer Science exam as early as 9th or 10th grade. Students who continue with the more advance java programming can take the Oracle Certified Programmer exam by 12th grade, which, normally, would happen after graduating from college. The League of Amazing Programmers is working to create a pathway for students who want to go straight into the workforce.

While their main classrooms are located in Carmel Valley, they have started working directly with educators. The experience of holding classes directly in schools, such as the pilot program in San Marcos, has worked very well, according to Vicki Barks, Executive Director of The League of Amazing Programmers. “Teachers are the eyes and ears on the ground, and they can direct students who are the best fit for this program,” stated Barks.

The end goal for San Marcos students will be a mastery of simple programming concepts by the end of the 2017-2018 school year. The League will work with our educators to evaluate the future of the program at that time.

For additional information please contact Anna Lucia Roybal at annalucia.roybal@smusd.org.

The San Marcos Unified School District is an innovative and collaborative community providing an unparalleled educational experience. Through an engaging and supportive environment, all our students are challenged, inspired, and poised to excel.