Cuyuna Range Elementary Wins STEM Innovation Award
The STEM program at Cuyuna Range Elementary has seen massive growth after starting with seven students in an after school program in 2014.
“We’re reaching all of our 350 students,” said Kurt Becker, principal of Cuyuna Range Elementary. “They come in here once every three days.”
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and all of these fields are incorporated into the classroom through their tech and innovation class time.
“[We] just prepare our students for their futures and what they are going to be asked to do outside of the classroom when they become adults,” said Allison Larsen, who teaches all the STEM classes at Cuyuna Range Elementary.
Today, the students learned how to create their own virtual reality environment and then put on the goggles to explore.
“I’m making a winter [scene], and I have ice skating and a little cat because I like that,” said fourth grader Delila Yliniemi.
“They’re coding, programming, designing and engineering,” Becker said. “The level of rigor changes as the students get older.”
And the students get challenged more as they progress through the program.
“You kind of have to make stuff bigger or wider and sometimes that gets confusing, and you have to do some coding too,” said fifth grader Jairus Millsop.
It’s all in an effort to give the students tools to use outside of the classroom.
“Part of this class is that it is very rigorous and they do have to learn to not give up; they need to try it over and over again and that is part of their grade in this class,” Larsen said.
The school just received the STEM Innovation Wward from the Minnesota Elementary School Principal’s Association in partnership with the Science Museum of Minnesota.
“We’re the only school in the state that won this award this year, so we find that as an honor,” Becker said.
Even after being recognized for their efforts, the school shows no signs of slowing down.
It’s great to be on the forefront of STEM education and we want to keep moving forward by inspiring others and being inspired by others as well,” Larsen said.
The goal is to reach outside of the walls at Cuyuna Range.
“We are all growing as school districts in this area,” Becker said.