How We Teach STEM

The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – known collectively as STEM – affect nearly every component of our modern lives. It is therefore crucial to introduce students to STEM-based problem solving in class at a young age. STEM classes take a cross-curricular approach, challenging students to synthesize their knowledge from multiple disciplines in order to solve problems.

A Dedicated STEM Class

The French American Academy has STEM teachers and programs for both middle and elementary school. While we have dedicated classes and curriculum for science and math, STEM is a separate class that focuses on collaborative projects and frequently includes coding. These projects frequently call upon students to reinvest knowledge from their science and math classes, using critical thinking skills in order to solve a problem or meet a challenge. In middle school, students are at a critical stage in their development, and they are starting to think more seriously about their future academic and career paths. This is why it is crucial to expose them to STEM subjects early on, so they can develop an interest in these fields and build a foundation for their future studies and career choices. Let’s look at a few of the STEM projects that our middle school students have recently undertaken.

Bringing Newton’s Laws to Life

Our middle school STEM projects are project-based, with real-world applications and a connection to classroom learning. After science lessons on Newton’s laws of motion, our sixth-grade students were challenged to design and construct roller coasters. Each miniature roller coaster had to feature some sort of climb, drop, and looping motion.

At the eighth grade level, Newton’s laws had to be applied in a different way, this time to engineer miniature cars propelled by air. This challenge was presented with additional constraints: students had to plan a model before constructing their car, the car had to be able to move in a straight line (i.e., be balanced on its wheels), and students had to use materials that had been collected as trash, such as used bottles (although they could use tape or glue for construction). The students spent weeks designing and perfecting their cars, and on the last day of the project they met in the hallway to measure how far their cars could go, propelled by the air from one balloon. 

Epidemiology & Data Science to Solve Real-World Problems

After the last few years, we all have heightened awareness of the importance of understanding how and why sickness spreads. FAA’s seventh graders drew upon their knowledge of science, coding, and math to create hypothetical models showing how human behavior can affect a disease’s path through the general population. Drawing on real-world data, the students applied what epidemiologists have learned about the effects of masking, vaccination, and isolation. They created computer programs that would forecast a disease’s severity based on those different controls. Beyond requiring students to synthesize science, coding, and mathematical knowledge, this project showed students how proper data science can be used to combat misinformation and lead to better practices in public health. 

Building bridges between engineering and math

The STEM project that our seventh graders are currently tackling is to build a bridge using popsicle sticks. They are constrained by the number of sticks they may use, and they will be evaluated based on how much weight their bridge can hold. Beyond that, however, their teacher and classmates will also judge their bridges based on aesthetics: bridges can be objects of beauty and recognizable monuments in the real world, so this is a realistic and important criterion for evaluation. As structural engineering professionals do in their careers, our STEM students will need to calculate, plan, and repeatedly test their bridges in hopes of striking a balance between beauty and stability. 

STEM education is a critical component of modern education that prepares students for the future. FAA teachers strive to find ways to make these subjects fun, accessible, and relevant, inspiring and empowering our students to pursue their passions and achieve their full potential. Collaborating on hands-on projects, middle school students can build a strong foundation in STEM and develop an interest in these fields that can lead to rewarding careers.

Share this news

More Latest news


Contact Us

The French American Academy Preschool Student

Visit JERSEY CITY, NJ Campus

Thank you for entering your email before choosing your visit appointment (then you'll be redirected to the date picker)