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    Ms. Swangstue
    Department / Grade: STEM
    Phone: 651-748-6887
    Cowern Elementary


    STEM Frequently Asked  Questions

    What is STEM?

    The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  STEM education combines these areas in an integrated, problem-based approach to teaching and learning with an emphasis on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity. 

    Why is STEM important?

    STEM education increases student engagement by transforming the typical teacher-centered classroom through greater emphasis on student-centered curriculum that is driven by problem-solving, discovery, and exploratory learning. 

    My child is not gifted…is STEM for her?

    All students benefit from integrated STEM education; it teaches independent innovation and allows students to explore subjects in greater depth.  The hands-on nature of STEM instruction increases the likelihood of success among students of all learning styles and abilities. 

    Will reading and literacy still be taught?

    Reading and literacy skills are the building blocks to all learning and therefore are integrated into successful STEM education.  Literacy will continue to be a focus of teaching and learning as a stand-alone curriculum in addition to being integrated into STEM activities.

    How do music and art fit into STEM?
    Music and art play an important role in STEM education as they help nurture the creativity required for students to develop unique and innovative solutions to problems as well as to communicate their ideas effectively.  No invention would be successful without attention to aesthetics-studying music and art gives students the ability to better present and market their solutions to engineering problems.
    How is Cowern preparing for the transition to integrated STEM education?
    The staff has been working on STEM curriculum development with the directors of the University of Minnesota STEM Education Center as well as with 3M Wizards.  Over the summer, they also took part in the Education Institute at the Science Museum of Minnesota and in the Elementary Engineering Workshop at The Works. 

    Kindergarten-Materials in our World

    First Grade - Hamster Habitat

    Second Grade - Designing Walls-Introduction to Earth Materials and  Materials in Engineering

    Third Grade - Designing Bridges-Introduction to Balance Forces and Civil Engineering

    Fourth Grade - Solid as a Rock-Introduction to Rocks and Materials Engineering

    Fifth Grade - Marvelous Machines-Simple machines and Industrial Engineering

    If you have further questions about STEM, contact Stem Specialist Kim Swangstue kswangstue@isd622.org or 651-748-6887

    Parent Resources


    • Clever login for elementary students and parents 
      • Log in to Clever using your student's 6-digit student ID email (ex. 000000@isd622.org) and password
      • Once logged into Clever, you can access Seesaw, Lexia, RazKids, and any other district learning system or app


    • Campus Parent (formerly Parent Portal)
      • provides parents and students access to announcements, assignments, attendance, bus routes, fees, grades, report cards, schedules, and more 
      • parents can keep their contact information up-to-date in Campus Parent to receive important texts and emails from the district and their school