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A Successful First STEM FEST!

Approximately 650 students, parents, teachers and community members attended the first-ever STEM Fest event at Mount Si High School, sponsored by the school's PTSA, on February 11. Attendees learned about the district's commitment to STEM education to better prepare all SVSD students for 21st Century career and post-secondary education opportunities. STEM is a method of teaching that integrates Science, Technology, Engineering and Math concepts with hands-on problem solving and critical thinking skills needed to solve real-world problems. This type of education, which helps students understand the relevancy of their learning, is being implemented in schools across the nation with great success toward post-graduation goals.

Click on the image below for a slide show of STEM Fest 2013.

Stem Slideshow

In the standing-room-only auditorium, Principal John Belcher started the evening by sharing the district's vision for STEM education and why it is important for our students. (Click here to watch a video of Mr. Belcher's STEM presentation, approx. 10 min.) He then introduced guest speakers who are STEM education experts with whom Mount Si High School is partnering to offer students more quality education options:

  • Dr. Shepard Siegel, PhD, Director of School Engagement with Project Lead the Way described how PLTW, which will be used in a core STEM course at Mount Si High School next year, is a national leader in STEM-based curriculum and teacher training. (Click here to watch a video of Shepard Siegel's Project Lead the Way presentation, approx. 14 min.) PLTW website: http://www.pltw.org/
  • Steve Hollasch, Microsoft employee and TEALS Instructor, discussed the volunteer program he's been involved with this year at Mount Si, co-teaching Computer Science courses with Technology Teacher Kyle Warren. (Click here to watch a video of Steve Hollasch discussing the TEALS Program, approx. 11 min.) The Teaching Education And Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program made possible in our district through a Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation grant and committed volunteers. TEALS website: http://tealsk12.org/ (NOTE: If you have a computer science degree or career and are interested in being a TEALS volunteer next fall, please contact Mr. Belcher or Mr. Warren now.)
  • Keynote speaker Keith Rivers is an award-winning filmmaker with Uber Content and a Mount Si High School graduate from the Class of 2001. His message to students was, in the words of one student, "cool and encouraging," as he shared how STEM skills have been useful in his career.

Students and parents also had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of courses that are currently offered at Mount Si High School, as well as several new subjects planned for the fall. New courses planned for the Freshman Campus include: Project Lead the Way: Introduction to Engineering Design; Fit for Life (PE); The Big History Project; and AP Human Geography. In addition, high school students showcased their work and teachers were available to answer questions regarding classes currently offered in: Digital Imaging, Video Production, Computer Animation, Web Design and Production, Robotics, Computer Science, Science Pathways, Integrated Inquiry Science (IS), Sports Medicine, Health Science careers, Anatomy and Physiology, Environmental Horticulture, AP Environmental Science, AP Statistics, Geometry in Construction, Culinary Arts, and American Sign Language (ASL).

Also, a middle school Robotics team from CKMS exhibited the Lego robotic solution they created that qualified for the state-level competition.

In addition, the District's Technology Team shared some new classroom technologies that are available to schools to help further engage students in learning -- in extraordinary new ways. A variety of mobile devices, multi-touch projectors, and motion sensing devices for hands-on learning were on display for people to try out and envision what could be possible for our schools with future technology levy support. Attendees may have also spotted a remote-controlled 5-foot-tall vertical robot with iPad mini circulating the Mount Si commons, showcasing FaceTime technology and two-way video transmission.

Here are some of the comments that parents shared with the event organizers regarding the inaugural STEM Fest:

  • "Congrats on organizing such an outstanding event for Mount Si! It was interesting, informative and of course, very well attended."
  • "I loved the presentations. The TEALS talk was really interesting (as were all the others). Congratulations on a big successful night!"
  • "Great info and so nice to see so many care about the changes on the horizon at MSHS!"
  • "Keith Rivers did a great job of getting the students' attention - he brought the WOW to STEM"
  • "Loved the combination of speakers. It was great to get first-hand information about the Project Lead the Way curriculum."
  • "I liked hearing Keith's try message. There is so much pressure on kids nowadays - I think it was good for them to hear that they should definitely try but that it is OK to quit and try something else until they find their passion."
  • "I really appreciated the teachers being there. I've been feeling a bit in the dark with all the coming changes, so it felt good to get clear information directly from the sources. STEM Fest was very informative - thank you!"
  • "STEM Fest was inspiring. My 8th grade student is so excited about starting MSHS next year. Now that's a great accomplishment, getting an 8th grader excited about education."

Special thanks to the Mount Si High School PTSA and the many parents, students and staff who volunteered their time to make this an outstanding event. Hats off especially to the event organizers -- Cathy Renner and Lori Hollasch -- whose passion for STEM education and outstanding coordination skills provided a worthwhile informative evening for families throughout the district.

If you missed STEM Fest 2013, visit the Mount Si PTSA website for the agenda and more information. Also, families with students attending Mount Si High School next fall should mark their calendars for Registration Information Night on Tuesday, February 26. All incoming freshman (8th graders now) should attend 6:00-7:30 pm with their parents/guardians, while current 9th-11th graders and parents should attend 7:30-8:30 pm. Principal Belcher and counselors will discuss different post-high school options, the pathways for reaching each of those options, graduation requirements that vary by grade level, as well as, the registration process.