Northeastern Educational IU 19: iCreate enhances STEM teaching

iCreate is a technology-focused STEM program out of the NEIU 19 Technology Department that aims to bring engaging cross-curricular STEM experiences to classrooms in the districts NEIU 19 serves. Providing Common Core Standards Aligned projects ranging from pre-K to 12th grade, this exciting program has been putting 21st century tools into the hands of both students and teachers to enhance the learning process for the past two years. Students create something during each learning project and construct their own knowledge along the way.

“We bring all the supplies and equipment necessary to provide a robust experience for the students we serve,” says Alexandra Konsur, iCreate Co-founder. Example projects include engineering with robots, computer coding with drones, electrical sculpture with squishy circuits and three dimensional design using 3D printing…to name just a few.

iCreate staff regularly showcase example lesson projects on their Project Showcase page at http://icreatestem.org/projects/, and have designed summer camps for hundreds of students in grades 3-8.  “We feel strongly that STEM thinking is something all students need access to regardless of their backgrounds.  That’s why we work with both public and private institutions and deliver straight-to-student programs afterschool, on weekends and during the summer,” says Konsur.
One of the best things about their program is the integration of Art/Design in the projects. Stephanie Williams, iCreate Co-founder feels,“the Art/Design isn’t forced and doesn’t need its own place in STEM because it truly is in every aspect of it. Regardless if you call it an outline, layout, schematic, thumbnail or blueprint, these are things we have students do before they begin so they have a plan for their vision. Without this, the project prototypes and resultant revisions aren’t as strong as the ones where the student teams went through this process. This is what makes iCreate so powerful: we teach students to realize design is in everything they see and touch.”

 iCreate allows districts to implement STEM in a low-risk, high reward way because IU personnel, tools and supplies are utilized to help keep district costs low. “While working with the students in class, we also provide support and co-plan with the classroom teachers so that they can grow in their knowledge and professional practice in STEM. There’s no better way to see a teacher grow than to watch their students learn with us,” says Konsur. 

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