ULS Achieves STEM Certification
University Laboratory School is the first public school in the state of Louisiana to earn STEM certification.
The school’s two-year STEM certification journey began in the fall of 2018. On March 12, 2020, Cognia (formerly AdvancEd) representatives completed a two-day site visit, the final step in the process, and awarded ULS with full STEM certification.
The acronym STEM represents the subject areas of science, technology, engineering and math; but at ULS, student investigations of scientific concepts also include inquiry and problem-based learning in the creative process (the Arts) and opportunities for social, physical and leadership growth and development through extracurricular Activities and Athletics, adding an “A” to the acronym.
High School Instructor Aimee Welch-James and Elementary Instructor Rebecca Svensson were co-coordinators of ULS STEM certification efforts.
“STEM certification was the end goal, but the journey to STEM certification is where the real transformation took place. Throughout the process, our teachers worked very hard to see their content through the STEAM lens resulting in more authentic, meaningful, and creative ways to engage their students in learning,” said Welch-James.
Svensson added that because “inquiry-based and interdisciplinary learning have always played a central role in our instruction,” incorporating the engineering design process on which STEM is based into the school’s elementary and secondary curriculums was a natural next step.
“As a result, we are already seeing that our students are becoming even better at collaborating and problem solving,” noted Welch-James. “Overall, the journey to STEM certification enhanced our school’s proficiency to prepare our students for the ever-changing world.”
In addition to STEM certification, ULS is nationally recognized as a Blue Ribbon School and earned renewed AdvancEd accreditation in 2017.
The two-day Cognia site visit was hosted by the ULS Foundation.