Problem Solving with STEM at Warren Consolidated Schools

Warren Consolidated Schools offers innovative STEM programming for middle and high school students.

Through innovative STEM-focused programming in the middle and high school years, Warren Consolidated Schools is growing minds that will tackle the world’s biggest challenges. When students enter one of the district’s four middle schools, they can dig deep into science, technology, engineering and math-focused coursework that helps them discover their own potential as students — and as future leaders in high-demand STEM careers.

“In a number of ways, middle school students are able to get hands-on experience designing, building and testing their work,” says John Bernia, chief academic officer at Warren Consolidated Schools, describing one project that has students testing and iterating robotics. “We know it’s a profound lesson to see that end result of your work.”

STEM labs

Through a 2016 bond approval, Warren Consolidated Schools replaced outdated shop classrooms with new, state-of-the-art STEM labs in all four middle schools. Supported by proven STEM curriculum, the labs received upgraded computer technology, robotics kits and collaboration tables specifically designed to get students working in teams to meet the challenges of the projects.

Engaged in an innovative educational program called Project Lead The Way, students are empowered to build in-demand tech skills while seeing themselves as future problem solvers. And, because middle school is the ideal time for self-discovery, students are building the foundation for future academic success in high school, college and career.

Across the four schools, elective coursework in the STEM labs is potentially available to 3,000 students, says Bernia, who led the project to build the STEM labs. “It’s a really neat option for kids,” he says.

Specialized learning

For students who show a strong understanding of science and technology, Warren Consolidated Schools offers the Middle School Mathematics and Science Technology Center (MS2TC), an innovative program that integrates math, science and technology with reading and writing to focus on real-world project-based learning activities at the Butcher Educational Center, which is also home to the high school Macomb Mathematics Science Technology Center (MMSTC), a consortium school for students at 11 Macomb County school districts.

MS2TC students spend half of each day at their home middle school, and half at Butcher, where they engage in a STEM curriculum with a relatively small cohort of like-minded students.

To solve the challenge of potential future water shortages, MS2TC students collect and analyze data at the Clinton River watershed through an innovative program in collaboration with Cranbrook Institute of Science. “This program is just one example of the work kids do at MS2TC that tackles real-world problems,” Bernia says.

Students with the most potential to succeed at MS2TC show a strong understanding of the deeper questions of math and science by the time they reach late elementary school, Bernia says. “This is a sign that this might be a great program for these students,” he says, adding that a number of MS2TC students then attend the International Academy of Macomb or the MMSTC.

“These students go on to elite high school experiences that turn into top college experiences and then go on to solve big problems,” Bernia says. “We have kids pursuing aerospace, physics, chemistry and engineering. They’re really bright kids with really bright futures.”

The best part, says Bernia, is that STEM-focused opportunities for middle and high school students are just one facet of Warren Consolidated Schools. Together with award-winning programming in performing arts and career-technical education, the district has something for every student.

“No matter what success looks like for you, from achieving a four-year degree to performing arts or directly entering the workforce, we have a program for that,” he says.

Learn more about Warren Consolidated Schools at wcskids.net.

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