Preparing Youth to Lead for Christ in Growing STEM Field

By: Alyssa Mendez
By choosing a Christian school like CCA that implements a STEM curriculum from Pre-K to 12th grade, parents can encourage their children to explore their giftings in science, technology, engineering, and math without taking God out of the equation. Discover how pointing students to His orderly and creative nature through these subjects each year equips them for future success that in turn presents opportunities to be a light for Christ in this influential industry.

PHOTO: CCA senior Ethan Waggoner presents his team's engineering prototype to a group of local professional engineers as part of their Capstone Engineering Design and Development Class project.

In 2013, Calvary Christian Academy began a partnership with the nonprofit organization Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to implement a STEM curriculum across its Pre-Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School, and High School divisions. This curriculum coupled with the biblical integration from CCA’s teachers prepares students to be 21st-century, Christ-centered leaders in the thriving STEM field.

 
Click here to learn more about why and how the Project Lead the Way STEM curriculum was introduced to CCA!
 
 
The CCA teachers who have been rigorously trained and certified to execute PLTW’s curriculum teach students:

  • How to fail forward and problem solve
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • How to execute the design process
  • Industry standards
  • The value of teamwork
  • And many other real-world skills

And although PLTW is not a faith-based curriculum, CCA’s Christian teachers are trained in biblical integration. They teach students how to filter STEM through the lens of biblical truth and recognize God’s character in those subjects.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . .” —Romans 1:20

At the youngest level, students are introduced to this biblical framework by being taught simple, yet profound ideas of God being sovereign and a perfect designer/creator. At a higher level, students are taught to view solutions, like finding cures to diseases, as part of God’s mission for redemption.
“We are building disciples to exercise their God-given mandate to innovate, create, and restore,”
“We are building disciples to exercise their God-given mandate to innovate, create, and restore,” said Mrs. Laura Quinn, CCA High School science teacher and administrator, STEM department head, and one of the visionaries who introduced PLTW to the school.


A SCHOOL-WIDE APPROACH

Project Lead the Way offers five programs across all grade levels. And although other schools across the country have integrated this curriculum, CCA is the only school in the state of Florida to offer all five PLTW programs, known as PLTW Pathways:

In the Pre-K, Elementary, and Middle School levels, students learn the fundamentals of programming/design, robotics/engineering, computer science/coding, and the biomedical sciences through project-based team challenges, inquiry-based learning, and interactive iPad activities.
CCA is the only school in the state of Florida to offer all five PLTW programs
In the Lower School, this instruction takes the form of a STEM “Specials” class that meets weekly and reinforces what they are learning in science with their primary teacher. Beginning in third grade, students begin learning how to design, build and program robots.

“Students have so much fun learning, they don’t even realize they’re learning!,” said Mrs. Quinn. “And when they do encounter failure, we teach them that failure shouldn’t defeat them, but rather inform them and motivate them to keep trying.”

 
At the Middle School level, students can choose to take the following elective courses: Engineering Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics, Medical Detectives, Science of Technology, and Flight & Space. Students in the Automation and Robotics class are building robots that mimic the Amazon robots that transport packages within their warehouse for shipping preparation. Talk about real-world skills!

As seen in the numbered list above, High School students can choose to pursue one of three specialized pathways, which are tracks they can take within the STEM endorsement program at CCA: computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. The honors weighted courses offered within these endorsement tracks involve advanced, 21st-century education practices such as innovation and design, clinical experience and analyzing case studies, as well as a standardized end-of-course exam that can qualify students for college credits from an accredited university. Additionally, two CCA courses that fall under the computer science pathway are Advanced Placement (AP) courses because of the partnership PLTW has with College Board.
we teach them that failure shouldn’t defeat them, but rather inform them and motivate them to keep trying.
STEM endorsement students also get the opportunity to earn multiple certifications within their chosen pathway, which opens the door for professional opportunities. For example, CCA students who have earned certifications in biomedical science gain the skills necessary to work in a research lab with a professor their freshman year of college, giving them an advantage over other students who may have the head knowledge but lack real-world lab skills and experience.

During the 2020-21 school year, biomedical STEM endorsement students were able to tour and interact with personnel at Cypress Creek Outpatient Surgical Center as part of a new partnership between the surgical center and CCA. This partnership gives students the opportunity to attend surgeries, and intern with surgeons, physicians, and nurses at the center.

Perhaps the most timely lesson for our biomedical science students this past school year was being able to scientifically understand the COVID-19 pandemic — the virus, the disease, how vaccines are created, and how they actually work.

“Project Lead the Way gives our students who were born into a tech-driven society the practical and technical knowledge of how the world around them works,” said Mrs. Quinn. “These teenagers have a better understanding of what’s going on than the average adult. It’s pretty remarkable.”
“Project Lead the Way gives our students who were born into a tech-driven society the practical and technical knowledge of how the world around them works.”

If you’re ready to see your child(ren) gain the high-level STEM knowledge and hands-on experience at CCA that will draw others closer to Jesus Christ, schedule a campus tour today!

Are you a current CCA parent with a Middle and/or High School student interested in STEM subjects? Email your child(ren)’s school counselor to schedule an appointment and discuss the appropriate courses/electives that should be taken.

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