STEM, STEAM and Social-Emotional Development at The Louise S. McGehee School

Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Louise S. McGehee School. 

STEM, STEAM and Social-Emotional Development at The Louise S. McGehee School

STEM, STEAM and Social-Emotional Development at The Louise S. McGehee SchoolLast week, schools around the country celebrated CSEdWeek (or National Computer Science Week). At McGehee, we turn STEM into STEAM because we know that an arts enhanced approach to math and science helps to create a hook that will draw girls deeper into STEM fields. Given the alarming recent trends reported in a *Harvard study about the drop in confidence that girls experience in Middle School, we want to ensure that our students have ample opportunity to develop the skills that will keep them engaged in STEM for a lifetime.

Here’s how we bring the “A” in STEAM to life:

We don’t skimp on the hard skills! 

  • Fine motor development for our youngest students via renderings and drawings; designing to scale and following the design thinking process.
  • Interactive online content like computer-aided design (CAD) programs, digital art, and data collection software are used proficiently in the classroom. Scales, force plates, decibel readers, thermometers and other measurement tools support mathematical and data-interpretation skills. 
  • State of the art 3-D printers, laser-cutters, vinyl cutters, and dedicated computers are available for more in-depth and precise engineering projects.

“Soft-skills” are important too—for social-emotional development and more.

  • Take a risk! Environment in which all students feel safe to take risks and learn from their mistakes. Low-stakes risks help to prepare them for higher-stakes risks (testing, college entrance, etc); success and failure are equal opportunity options here.  
  • Great opportunities for collaboration among different grades and age groups. Gives our young students fantastic role models and reinforces the “see it, be it” attitude of our school. Recently, one of our Little Gate classes worked with 8th graders on a fossil project. 8th graders met with their Little Gate “clients,” to discuss and document ideas for design. Using TinkerCAD the 8th graders translated the design to 3-D models, pressing their clients’ designs into clay. These “fossils” are buried and ready for an archeological dig where our youngest students will match their fossils to the original 3-D model.
  • Mentoring and collaboration works both ways, allowing Middle School girls a chance to look outside of themselves at a time when they’re often turning inward and allows them the opportunity to mentor younger students.
  • Role play – invoices, consultations, learning entrepreneurial “lingo” and the soft skills of client satisfaction in a safe and supportive setting. (Girls supporting girls.)

As the Director of Enrollment Management at the Louise S. McGehee School AND as the mother of a Pre-K applicant, I spend the better part of most days touring prospective families around our campus. The beauty of a personal tour is that parents and students can witness our curriculum come to life in the classroom! McGehee’s “Creation Station” or STEAM lab is the most prominent and visible classroom on our campus, allowing everyone who is on campus to see STEAM in action. To check out McGehee girls’ STEAM work during CSEdWeek, click here.

The beauty of my professional role is to observe the “McGehee Magic” that is made every single day on campus, and the bonus in my personal role as the mother of a three year-old daughter is to have the ultimate assurance that when she becomes a McGehee girl, she is exactly where she needs to be. After all, tomorrow is a girl!

*Click here to access the Harvard article on the struggles of middle school girls.

Julee LaPorte is an educator and mother of two, and she was crowned the first Baby Boucherie Queen of Sorento, Louisiana in 1985. A native of Saint Amant, Louisiana, she and her husband have lived in New Orleans for the past 13 years. She is a graduate of the LSU Honors College and completed her graduate work at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She is passionate about girls’ education, improving outcomes for all students in New Orleans, and wearing at least three different patterns at once. Julee found “her village” at the Louise S. McGehee School where she started teaching French in 2009. Her favorite age to teach is Middle School, even if no one believes her. She currently has the honor of serving as the Director of Enrollment Management at McGehee.



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