District State: New Jersey
District Website: henryhudsonreg.k12.nj.us
Challenge: Henry Hudson Regional School, which houses both middle and high school students, was losing gifted students to the local vocational schools. Leaders also wanted to attract students who have a passion for STEAM or STEM disciplines.
Initiative: A full-time STEAM coordinator was hired to develop a curriculum, create a makerspace and apply for grants that would provide the necessary resources for a state-of-the-art program—now, the only STEAM program in the region. Students start by enrolling in an introductory course for engineering design, development and innovation that fosters outside-the-box problem-solving skills. Then, they decide whether to follow a STEM or STEAM path, both of which feature an applicable internship and capstone project. AP classes are also included.
Impact: Enrollment has been growing at the regional school, and students who might have considered leaving for a vocational school now face a more difficult decision. Students participate in Skills USA competitions and STEAM TANK, a U.S. Army-sponsored event that requires critical thinking and team collaboration, as well as other STEAM competitions.
Advice: Hiring a STEAM or STEM coordinator who is dedicated to all facets of the program and can think creatively is important for success. Securing funding resources, such as grants, is also key.