T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge Recognized as the Top Elementary STEM Program in the Nation at the 2015 STEM Excellence Awards
T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge (TPAAK) was named the Top Elementary STEM Program in the nation by the Florida Educational Technology Corporation (FETC) at the 2015 STEM Excellence Awards Ceremony on January 22, 2015. The ceremony was held at the annual FETC Conference, which attracted over 5,000 participants. TPAAK was one of hundreds of elementary schools from all 50 states who submitted entries for the 2015 FETC STEM Excellence Awards. T.R. Paul Academy was selected as the winner of the award based on the innovation and educational impact of its STEM program.
According to the STEM Excellence Awards website, “The FETC STEM Excellence Awards were created to recognize excellence and innovation in the field of STEM education at the primary, middle and high school levels, with nominees and winners selected from each level. STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.”
“I am so proud of our teachers and students for this incredible accomplishment,” said T.R. Paul Academy Head of School Phyllis Nakagawa. “TPAAK is a unique school community, and I am thrilled that we are able to provide students in Fort Collins the highest quality STEM education, enriched with the integration of the arts.”
T.R. Paul Academy’s STEM activities are part of the Paragon™ curriculum with all classes participating every Friday. Paragon™ is an interdisciplinary hands-on journey through the history of great ideas and people in world culture. In addition to the humanities/social sciences curriculum, Paragon™ STEM Guides, implemented every Friday, feature the history of technology, innovation, architecture and engineering, and tie to the historical era in Paragon at each grade level.
Additionally, the Gifted/Talented Program incorporates STEM activities into every part of its curriculum. Since the school is arts based, TPAAK uses the term STEAM which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. The STEAM philosophy of the school is that problem solving is an essential skill for all students. Given a problem, students are encouraged to use their creativity in order to produce a solution individually and in cooperative groups. Experimentation, trial and error, brainstorming, and working together are components of the process.
For each monthly Paragon™ performance, students have opportunities to write scripts and music, design costumes and sets, and perform in front of an audience. Paragon™ offers an interdisciplinary humanities curriculum that is an integral component of STEAM at TR Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge as it involves problem solving, critical thinking, and technology.
According to Connie Logsdon, a teacher at TPAAK and the head of the STEM Program in addition to the Gifted/Talented program, “Students at TPAAK attend field trips to Colorado State University to tour the physics lab and to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery several times each year. Students and their families are invited to the Little Shop of Physics during open house days. The surrounding farms in our area give our students many chances to have experiences with animals and plants. We often have scientists, authors, and parents in to speak to grade level classes or the entire school. These are just some of the ways STEM learning extends beyond the classroom at our school.”
In addition to STEM integrations in TPAAK’s Paragon™ program and cross-curricular connections, field trips, and presentations, the school offers a number of extra-curricular activities that encourage students to practice hands-on STEM activities. These extra-curricular activities include: Lego Robotics, Chess Club, and Mad Science. Lego Robotics has competitions for robot designs and tasks for the actual robots to complete. Students work on teams to design, build, and program their robots. The Chess Club has problem solving inherent in the game and also has competitive teams. Mad Science focuses on the scientific method and experimentation.
While Paragon™ STEM teaches student design in the history of innovation, TPAAK looks to the future by cultivating the skills of team work in design. “Our STEM program helps students develop 21st century collaborative skills,” said STEM Program Coordinator Connie Logsdon. “Our school uses critical thinking, problem solving, research and interpretation in all subject areas. Creativity, artistry, and self-expression are traits that are continually encouraged in every lesson. Public speaking and written communication are heavily emphasized. The school has monthly performances called Paragon™ Nights in which students demonstrate the knowledge acquired including history and multicultural literacy. The goal of our program is to prepare students for future success in 21st century careers.”
T.R. Paul Academy is now enrolling for the 2015/2016 school year. Interested families are encouraged to visit www.tpaak.org and call 970-226-2800 to schedule a tour.
About T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge
T.R. Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge is a tuition-free, public charter school serving grades K-5 in the Fort Collins area since 2006. T.R. Paul Academy focuses on educating through integration of the arts. The Fine Arts are incorporated into all daily instruction. We believe an extended school year calendar and an extended school day give the students more time to achieve their academic goals and stay in line with the rest of the world. This includes free full-day kindergarten. T.R. Paul Academy is managed by Mosaica Education and authorized by the Charter School Institute. To learn more, please visit www.tpaak.org.