Start Early in Raising Up a New Generation of Innovators

What if your 4-year-old daughter was the next Steve Jobs or Stephen Hawking? It’s possible and early exposure to math and science will only help fuel her natural curiosity.

In recent years, the concept of STEM education – a focus on science, technology, engineering and math – has become somewhat of an educational buzzword. Schools around the country are looking at ways to bolster their STEM focus to create a generation of workers well equipped for what is sure to be a booming industry.

It is estimated that by 2018, 8 million STEM jobs will be available in the United States. And while an overwhelming majority of U.S. students won’t be prepared for those positions, students who have attended Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville will have a keen competitive advantage.

When school starts in August, Pinewood will launch its Idea Lab, a STEM initiative for preschool all the way through grade 12. Students enrolling in the school’s early childhood program for ages 3 to 5 will benefit from years of STEM education. Even if they don’t pursue careers in science, technology, engineering or math, they will have developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills plus an eye toward innovation. They will be accustomed to working with teams and comfortable with technology. Those skills are valued by employers of all kinds.

“It does not matter if a student has a specific orientation toward science, mathematics or technology – Idea Lab is a place for the creative, the innovative, the poet or the artist,” said Steve Mandell, head of school at Pinewood. “Our goal is to educate the next generation of game-changers – the next creators of knowledge and invention.”

Preschoolers at Pinewood will have access to the Idea Lab, a STEM program that combines academics and creativity in a way that introduces STEM concepts at a young age. Lower School students will have weekly classes in the Idea Lab that reinforce broader applications of science, mathematics and technology.

Lessons may include how to build a new bridge across the Ashley River, how to find and purify better drinking water or redesign the lunch line at Pinewood. It’s about using challenges as learning opportunities.

Older students will have access to state-of-the-art technology so they can focus on computer programming, robotics, engineering and innovation. Plus, they can put their creativity and innovation to work in Makerspace, a DIY space where students gather to create, invent and learn. These spaces are typically outfitted with 3D printers, software, electronics, tools, craft and hardware supplies.
Giving students this kind of creative freedom combined with an early start in STEM education creates critical thinkers and increases science literacy while raising up a new generation of innovators.

“It is a pleasure being part of such a forward-thinking institution,” said Rhett J. Frampton, assistant head of school and lower school principal. “In the Idea Lab, all of our students – from the youngest in PK3 to the oldest in grade 12 – will be engaged in problem solving with their team members while using technology and developing and strengthening their math and science skills.”

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