LIBERTY, Mo. -- STEM-based education is a priority at one elementary school in Liberty, where even kindergarten students are getting an early start.
Educators say the best way to teach a student is with hands on the material. That's been the mission behind a STEM-based project called Project Lead the Way that holds Liberty Public Schools as one of its greatest success stories.
Unlike many STEM-centered educational frames, this one starts at the kindergarten level. Five-year-old Cora Fangman is a kindergartner at Liberty's Lewis and Clark Elementary School, who doesn't yet realize the depth of what she's learning.
“We're building stuff,” Fangman said. “We're building a beanstalk. We're making paintbrushes and building a house.”
Educators say collaboration with other kids on simple construction projects is instilling strong math and science skills. In educational circles, it's proving to be an approach that's working.
David Hosick is a Regional Director for Project Lead the Way, and a retired educator within the Blue Springs School District. Liberty Public School officials say Project Lead the Way is in use at all 11 of the district’s elementary schools.
“If we're really going to make an impact on how kids think, it really needs to happen here in the elementary,” Hosick said.
In six years as a fifth grade teacher, Lewis and Clark’s Brandon Lewis says he's watched Project Lead the Way build excitement in younger students.
“They're really forming some of the background knowledge, the foundational skills they'll need to be able to apply them when they get to the higher levels,” Hosick said.
Hosick says Project Lead the Way also encourages students to "fail forward." In a sense, that removes their fear of setbacks and encourages them to embrace new methods of education.