River Ridge Academy is focused on providing a rigorous curriculum that is STEM rich in content and resources for all of our students. Our greatest areas of strength lie within our STEM Learners (ST1.1-1.5). River Ridge Academy has set, and attained the goal that 100% of our students, K-8, will be exposed and involved in our STEM learning opportunities daily through their course work and specialized activities. We are proud of the commitment our teachers have made to ensure that all populations within our building are receiving a strong background in STEM based learning experiences. It is our mission to ensure that the goal of having 100% participation, that we set from day one, is maintained from year to year within our school.
Our curricula (ST1.6) requires students to problem solve, assess solutions, analyze their processes, and reevaluate solutions to attempt to create more effective and efficient solutions to their work than in their initial design. Examples of a few of these learning opportunities are at the middle school level, students are asked to construct a bridge to cover 40 cm in length using four pieces of 8.5” x 11” paper and three feet of tape with the ability to withstand the weight of as many pennies as possible. At the Kindergarten level students learn about the human body and the impact and treatment of a broken bone. They are then tasked with the effort of collaborating together to design a cast to help in the healing process of that injury.
Through our one-to-one device initiative (ST1.4) in which all students K-4 have a personal iPad and students 5-8, a Dell tablet, our students have frequent opportunities to personalize and self-direct their learning via their personal technological device(ST1.3). The device is their own for the school year to afford them access both while at school and at home. The devices support their ability to research and demonstrate their learning, but they also exhibit mastery of the STEM based curriculum through interactive journaling, video and web site creation, and exhibitions such as our annual STEM showcase. Finally, all of our STEM based learning is collaboratively researched, designed and delivered based off of our state and STEM specific curriculum standards which is mapped, scoped and sequenced in a manner to prepare our STEM learners to become college and career ready.
River Ridge Academy continues to focus its efforts in providing our educators ongoing professional development opportunities (ST1.7 & 1.9), through their common planning times, that focuses on the engineering design process. We continue to develop the strengths of our educators as we dig even deeper into the engineering design process as our method for teaching, learning and even planning lessons. We are eagerly awaiting our first year of student achievement data from statewide testing to help us identify areas of strength and areas of development(ST1.8). Through our seasonal district-wide benchmark assessments, along with student work samples, our educators regularly evaluate the instructional delivery practices to better suit our STEM learners needs. We also value the partnerships that we have been able to establish thus far through our first year, and we look forward to the partnerships that are in the developing stages (ST1.10-11) Through these partnerships, our STEM programs have received grants for materials, resources- such as the robotics VEX kits were purchased and funding for our robotics club’s competitions and community based learning experiences like the Plasma Expo and Boeing Plant site visit were provided.
Now at the beginning of year two we look forward to our continuance of providing an in-depth STEM learning experience to our students through our curricula and goal of maintaining 100% participation from all students. We will continue to fund our STEM programs and create a strategic master schedule that allows us to achieve our goal of providing these programs to all of our students annually. We are continuing to develop and grow our professional development opportunities for our staff and also look forward to maintaining our current business and parent partnerships and the development of even more fantastic partnerships with local businesses to support our STEM learners and educators.