Each week, Patch features a different community leader who tells us "what's on their mind." The topics are broad reaching. This time, Lisa Lyle, head of school at MICDS talks about the new science and mathematics initiative at her school.
by Lisa Lyle, MICDS Head of School
Around the United States, educators and parents alike worry about the state of science and math education in part because of the concerns raised by international assessments that document a significant achievement gap in these areas on the part of American school children.
Just imagine the challenges our children will face: From biodiversity losses to depletion of natural resources, from global infectious diseases to greenhouse gas emissions, from taxation challenges in a global economy to clean water allocation, each of these demand novel and bold multilateral solutions. And any solutions to such challenges will demand complex mathematical and scientific thinking so central to 21st century skills.
Right here in St. Louis, cutting edge responses are emerging to pressing global challenges. Whether it’s the work being done at the Danforth Plant Science Center to address world hunger or the research at the Children’s Discovery Institute aimed at eradicating the most devastating childhood diseases, people in our community are stepping up in important ways. And they are putting St. Louis on the map as an international leader in plant and life sciences!
Given this growing role, and our school’s mission to graduate students prepared to lead lives of purpose and service, we readily accept our responsibility to ensure that all students develop strong competencies in the areas of science, math and technology in order to thrive and lead in the world that awaits them—even those who will go on to be fiction writers and art historians! To that end, several years ago, our MICDS science teachers revised their curriculum in order to provide even more extensive hands-on, inquiry-based learning opportunities. In addition, they recognize the critical link between science and mathematics, and have developed additional offerings in technology and engineering, as well as more explicitly integrated math and science courses, especially at the Upper School.
Here at MICDS, students have been challenged to develop deep conceptual understanding and strong fluency in both science and math. Because the research-based program envisioned by our teachers is constrained by our current facilities, we have developed plans for a new building that will provide state-of-the-art classroom laboratories, ample research space and opportunities for collaboration across the STEM disciplines for teachers and students, alike. Dedicated space for bench research, robotics and plant sciences will allow our students unique opportunities for significant work in these areas and collaboration with local scientists and engineers.
Thanks to a generous gift from the JSM Charitable Trust and James and Elizabeth Hall McDonnell, and support from the MICDS community, we are able to make this dream a reality.
Ours is an ambitious vision: to provide our students with science and math education that is second to none, and to partner with local institutions in ways that serve both our own students and children everywhere. We are committed to the careful implementation of best practice pedagogy delivered by spectacular faculty in spaces that support deep engagement and hands-on learning with access to the modern tools –including ubiquitous technology—that are required for this important work. In this way, we will prepare our students to take up their roles as leaders within a global community, and as vital participants in a vibrant local economy.