Learning STEM the LTCS Way

STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) is a hot topic these days wherever you look. You hear about it from grade school to graduate school and into the wider world of career selection. It causes parents to wonder – how important is STEM, what should STEM education look like for my child? These are great questions and we’d love to tell you what STEM education looks like at La Tierra Community School.

The subjects of science, technology, engineering and math are incredibly important, and they were important even before they acquired their own acronym! At LTCS we recognize the importance of STEM, and that’s why you will find all the components of STEM woven throughout all our lessons, not defined as a stand-alone program. 

Our teachers at LCTS create lessons with hands-on, project-based activities so our students’ learning experience is as comprehensive and complete as possible. We also strive to teach each child in a way that works for them, incorporating auditory, visual, and experiential learning. We approach the teaching of STEM topics in the same multi-faceted way; we teach the subjects individually and we add the various components of STEM to many other subject lessons to enhance the lesson and make it as thorough as possible.

For example, let’s talk about the 3 day camping trip our students take to the Grand Canyon. From the students’ perspective, this is experiential field work and fun! From the teacher’s perspective this is the perfect opportunity to showcase how science, technology, engineering and math are all interconnected.

LTCS student sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon with paper and pencil

Looking up the location of the Grand Canyon on the map and calculating the distance from our school immediately engages students in geography and math. Learning about the scientific history of the Grand Canyon, the way the canyon was created over thousands of years of the Colorado River cutting through the rock teaches the students about erosion, the power of nature, and the compounding of actions over time.

The Grand Canyon also has a tremendously rich archeological history and our students learn which native people have lived there and how the canyon has been used over 12,000 years of inhabitation.

Did we mention that the students camp at the Grand Canyon, so they also experience the natural world with a sky full of stars at night and hiking during the day? And along every step of the trip, technology is used to take pictures, check GPS, plan hiking routes and use a compass app, and stay in touch with others.

Learning subjects like math and science in isolation is not nearly as interesting as learning them in conjunction with other subjects – which, conveniently, is also how the real world works. Our articulated curriculum approach of thematic unit learning, where multiple subjects weave together and support each other, is exactly what we are doing throughout LTCS, albeit sometimes on a smaller scale than the Grand Canyon trip! 

Our students have flexed their math and engineering skills by building a chicken coop. They have studied oceans, tidal waves and mammals and planned a trip to the beach. They have experienced engineering first-hand while learning to pitch a tent, and they have worked their math muscles while calculating how much food to bring on a camping trip. Wherever they go and whatever they observe, their teachers help them connect it to science, technology, engineering and math.

three La Tierra students holding beets in a garden

Consciously or not, we all interact with STEM every day. At LTCS, our goal is to teach our students about the basic principles of STEM in conjunction with other subjects, so they can recognize and understand how the world around them works. That is how we nurture the whole child and inspire a passion for lifelong learning.

About La Tierra Community School 

At La Tierra Community School, teachers, parents, staff, and students work together to create a school culture of collaboration, respect, and high expectations. Through our expeditionary learning-inspired approach, trust, respect, responsibility, and joy in learning permeate our community and our students know they can impact their world. Enrolling K-7 in Prescott, today!