Pye Elementary’s STEAM approach combines science and creativity

Pye Elementary's STEAM approach combines science and creativity (Image 1)

It's full STEAM ahead at Joseph Pye Elementary. They're using an innovative approach to learning that merges creativity and science. We're in Dorchester District Two for our Cool School of the week.

They're having fun, and working on a major project in Pye Elementary's STEAM lab. STEAM, that's Science, Technology Engineering, Arts, and Math.  Fifth grade student Wisdom Jenkins says, “We're doing a Sensibots. We did it on paper first. This is what I did first. Now we have to make it into a 3-D form, so we did it with clay and then we added this thing and I added a mohawk to it.” Second grade student Sami Durham says, “It tells temperature, sound, gravity and all of those other things.” Krissa Watry is an engineer. She's president and CEO of Dynepic, a James Island design firm. Watry says, “We're working in collaboration with the National Science Foundation to develop this really cool engineering toy called Sensibots. Sensibots are an educational toy that will lay the STEM foundational knowledge to kids, but what's really cool with this pilot school is we actually get to build the bots with them. So they are actually designing the bots. We're 3-D printing them. We're talking them through how you go from a design to an actual tangible object.”

Pye deliberately moved from STEM to their STEAM approach, to include the arts. Steam integration teacher Ashlee Rollison says students in second through fifth grades visit the STEAM engineering lab every other week for thirty to forty minutes, depending on grade level. Rollison says, “We are tying in science technology engineering arts and math within this one sensibot lesson. Our principal thought it was very important that we taught children from kindergarten to fifth grade about engineering some of them want to be engineers because of the challenges their learning in this class.” Third grade student Marcus Marston says, “It's fun that we get to do a lot of stuff that some schools don't have, and learning about technology is fun because some people like being engineers to help people.” Marcus also says he wants to be an engineer.

In the younger classes, the STEAM approach is used as students design bridges to support their gingerbread men. Student council president Aiko Connelly says, “Our STEAM is really awesome because you learn while you're having fun. You don't realize you're learning, because they code it in funness, so that you're really learning.”

Principal Wanda Carroll Williams says, “Our goal is to have a highly engaged school environment, and that's what STEAM allows us to do. We are very strategic in selecting our business partners because we want them to be able to tie into this theme. The engineers came in and worked collaboratively with our teachers, that's the kind of information we want to impart to our children, especially girls who don't typically go into the sciences, the math and technology fields. We're very excited about what we're offering them.”

Pye has nearly fifty business partners, including Boeing, Bosch, Dynepic, STEM Centers SC, Kenya, Africa Project, Charleston Southern University, and the Citadel, just to name a few.

Coming up Wednesday on News 2 Today, we'll take a look at PYE's global initiatives, including the Kenya Project.

We want to hear about the good things going on at your school. send an email to octavia at, maybe your school will be the next Cool School of the week.

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