This blog is set up to give STEM Academy families tools to think about learning in positive ways both in and OUT of the classroom.

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This fall I have been thinking and reading a lot about failure. At Let Me Run practice last night we were talking with 5th and 6th grader boys about failure. Our words to live by were “failure is only failure if you fail to try again.” Each boy shared a time in their life that they failed, and then kept trying. We reflected on the season and how many of the boys couldn’t run continuously for a mile at the beginning of the season and tonight all but one of them ran a 5 K. We talked about how we can grow from failure, and the statement, “Fall down seven times get up eight.” As our conversation evolved at the end of practice, we talked about how we didn’t like the statement “Failure is not an option”  This quote is often attributed to Gene Kranz (foreground, back to camera), an Apollo 13 Flight Director.

Many of the boys were uneasy with the quote. We fail all the time. What do you mean failure is not an option. If Apollo 13 mission’s success was determined by exploring a crater on the moon, then the mission failed. But if the eventual success of the mission was not giving up on the three Astronauts caught in space then the mission was a huge success. Failure is an option, it is essential to eventual success if you don’t let it define you.

We need to embrace failure as a crucial element of learning. The CEO of the KIPP organization interviewed by the New York Times shares,  “Learning from failure leads to humility, adaptation, and resiliency; unfortunately, most students are taught to fear failure from a young age. To combat this trend, educators can emphasize having a growth mindset, encourage learning from past failures, and ask students to reflect regularly on, rather than ruminate over, failures.”

I recently read an article that I shared with the teachers at the STEM Academy, and on twitter. The article was entitled, “Forget The 10,000-Hour Rule; Edison, Bezos, & Zuckerberg Follow The 10,000-Experiment Rule” This article outlines the importance of experimentation, in success in life, and in business. “Deliberate experimentation is more important than deliberate practice in a rapidly changing world.” The same is true of growing up and education. When things don’t go as planned, great! What have we learned, how can we do things differently? Embracing failure as part of growing up, learning, and growing is a key to achieving at a high level. One of the boys in Let Me Run chose a mantra, "I can, I am, I will" and he said this as he ran his 5K last spring. This experience has stuck with me. When I completed my first 1/2 ironman, traveling 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running, this summer I would say these words to myself. I wanted to complete the event, I wanted to also do it in less than 6 hours. 6 hours and 9 minutes later I crossed the finish line.

Posted by Chris Chopp  On Nov 15, 2017 at 9:48 AM 48 Comments

Reading Rocks and 21 Day STEAM Challenge.

The STEM Academy is in the middle of our annual read-a-thon fundraiser. Students are reading on the weekend, and at recess to raise money for our natural playground that is sponsored by the parent teacher group. Thank you parent teacher group (PTG) for sponsoring the event, and supporting our school, teachers and students!

I am participating in the 21 day STEAM challenge with my family, and I want to encourage you to do the same. You can sign up for the challenge @ It’s a great way of looking at the world and it’s also a set of building blocks for innovation and let’s not forget it’s a lot of fun! Why should you make sure that your family or your students have a healthy STEAM diet in their daily life?

Engagement in school and academic success is a partnership between the family and the school. At the STEM Academy we work hard to inspire students to love learning, and also exemplify that having grit and a growth mindset are as important as getting A’s and B’s or high test scores on standardized exams. You can support this with the STEAM challenge, and by participating in the read-a-thon with your child or teenager.

The parent teacher group meets the second Wednesday of every month in the STEM Lab and all are welcome. The next meeting is November 8th and you can like them on facebook @ Last summer volunteers from the PTG constructed an outdoor classroom, a ¼ mile jogging and walking trail, and two gaga pits. If your child is gaga for gaga and you are wondering what is this all about watch this ABC story about gaga ball.

Posted by Chris Chopp  On Oct 20, 2017 at 10:29 AM 24 Comments
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