Through the 2021-2022 school year, Pulaski County Special School District sought to scale inclusive STEM experiences throughout grades K-5. Considering the need for sense-making opportunities provided in an inclusive and culturally relevant environment, a new districtwide initiative was birthed- STEM is Lit! STEM is LIT! seeks to take culturally relevant literature as the framework for authentic STEM experiences through sense-making practices.
The idea is simple. Find a culturally relevant and diverse piece of literature. Frame a STEM challenge experience around this piece of literature. Design authentic lesson plans and resources for teachers to implement these challenges in their schools. Organize your supplies. Support your teachers and students.
By creating districtwide monthly STEM challenges for all students in grades K-5, PCSSD was able to integrate literacy with mathematical sense-making, scientific inquiry, and the engineering design process creating memories that will last a life time. In addition to monthly challenges, STEM is Lit! also became the driving bus behind the Deputy Superintendent's book club for all 4th graders throughout the district, where a special STEM challenge was added and performed at each elementary in the district.
This presentation seeks to share those authentic practices that can be scaled in any district to expose broad elementary audiences to equitable STEM experiences and conversation.
How can districts expand STEM experiences through culturally relevant and inclusive practices in a large-scaled initiative?
Justin Luttrell (Pulaski County Special School District: Little Rock, AR), Alesia Smith (Pulaski County Special School District: Littel Rock, AR)