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This School in Adams County Is Full STEAD Ahead

Project-based learning prepares students to tackle real-world, workplace problems.

By Teree Caruthers on June 22, 2022

STEAD School in Adams County, CO
STEAD School

The Science, Technology, Environmental, Agricultural, and systems Design School – a charter high school in Adams County focused on solving global food, health, energy and environmental issues known as STEAD – uses project-based learning to prepare students for success in college and local careers.

The curriculum integrates career and technical education with real-world problem-solving, giving students the skills to become lifelong learners, creators and community leaders.

“Students are presented with a guiding question that is open-ended,” says Tyler Schindler, CTE director for the The STEAD School. “Through collaboration and exploration, these students rely on critical thinking skills to answer these guiding questions. Throughout the process, there is healthy risktaking and reflection on the process. These skills are valuable to any student for college, careers and life after high school.”

“One of our core values here at STEAD is ‘Head, Heart and Hands.’ Students learn every day by using their head, heart and hands, and engage the whole student.”

Tyler Schindler, STEAD School

Focused on the Future

Students at the STEAD School are introduced to local and regional career paths through an Introduction to Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources curriculum. Agriculture accounts for more than $40 billion of the state’s economy and more than 190,000 jobs.

Schindler says the school’s agriculture-based curriculum will help produce a workforce capable of tackling the industry’s most pressing issues. The school’s campus boasts a commercial greenhouse, a working 1-acre farm, beehives, a soil and seed lab, and facilities for animals.

What Is Project-Based Education?

Students are presented with a challenging problem or question. Through inquiry, authenticity, student-led voice, reflection and revision, students create a product that answers that problem or question.

“Many of the units in this curriculum have students investigate various careers that they could pursue after high school. Students research things, such as salaries, the education needed for the career, and what skills they would need to be successful in that career,” Schindler says.

“Through this process, students gain valuable soft skills such as collaboration, communication skills, problem-solving skills and learn to manage work time to name just a few.”

STEAD School in Adams County, CO
STEAD School

Individualized Learning in Adams County

Ninth grader Sadie Schafer is exploring a career in veterinary science. She says she was introduced to the school as an eighth grader during a career readiness presentation.

“I really loved their program and the ideas they had about what a school should be. I brought [the brochure] home to my mom, and the more we read about it, the more we liked the idea of project-based learning, doing things that you’re passionate about and having career pathways,” Schafer says.

She says her favorite project has been designing a model farm while exploring concepts such as genetic diversity and sustainability.

“They’re teaching us how to study efficiently and how to act in a professional setting, how to dress appropriately and how to correlate our classes toward one big goal,” she says. “I think this will really help when we’re doing big projects in the workplace or in college.”

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