STEAM learning starts early in South Fayette Township schools. The district is committed to computational thinking as the new literacy and has integrated computer science, engineering, and design thinking throughout the entire K-12 curriculum.
In first and second grade, students learn basic coding through apps like ScratchJr. They also learn some basic circuitry and create three-dimensional art, so that their “Flat Stanley” social studies projects (e.g., an Eiffel tower that lights up) are not, in fact, flat. In grades 3-5, students do hands-on projects in STEAM labs and can join a variety of STEAM-related clubs. They even teach their parents how to code at evening school events.
Middle school students graduate from block-based to text-based coding – every student takes a Python class. They can also take electives (e.g., an underwater robotics course), join a tech science association, and enter competitions. High school students can choose from a range of computer science classes, including AP coding and cybersecurity. (The district worked with Carnegie Mellon University to develop its computer science curriculum.) There’s even a summer STEAM institute, where both teachers and students are instructors.
The district still wants to do more, so they have secured enough grant funding to implement K-8 CS/STEAM pilot programs in nearby urban and rural with underserved students.