El Segundo Kicks Off Innovative STEM Curriculum in Kindergarten

“We believe it’s crucial to introduce young minds to the wonders of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) from the get-go – and that’s kindergarten,” says Melissa Moore, superintendent, El Segundo Unified School District (ESUSD). “Engaging students with STEM at a young age builds their confidence and sparks their innate scientific interest as they advance into middle school and high school—as well as inspires their future careers.”

In fall 2014, the elementary curriculum, “Project Lead the Way Launch,” was introduced for the fourth and fifth grades at Richmond and Center Street Schools. Supported by a grant from Chevron USA, it built on the PLTW Engineering Program at El Segundo’s middle school and high school. With the launch of the program for kindergarten through third grade, all elementary students now have access to the prestigious science and technology curriculum. 

Teachers trained in PLTW have maximum flexibility to work with their young students in a variety of scenarios, making learning and discovery more engaging. “We teach students how to use structured approaches and critical thinking skills with collaborative hands-on activities. They discover and learn together, demonstrating that it’s okay to take risks and make mistakes when problem solving,” said Marisa Janicek, executive director of educational services at ESUSD. 

Some examples of projects the ESUSD K-5 students are working on include learning about design through structure and function where students execute the design process and explore how engineers influence their lives. This module completed by grades K-5 included having the students design paint brushes and then testing for structure and function. Third grade students are exploring the science of flight by applying their knowledge and skills to design build and test an experimental model glider to explore forces that affect flight. Robotics and automation is being explored by fifth graders who are using Vex kits to build and test robots. Students will also have the opportunity to develop programming skills in a variety of platforms, including iPad applications and browser-based programming environments.

Project Lead The Way is a nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class, activity-, project-, and problem-based curriculum and quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate partners, help students develop the skills needed to succeed in our global economy. More than 6,500 schools across the U.S. offer PLTW programs to their students. Visit www.pltw.org for more information.


About the El Segundo Unified School District

The El Segundo Unified School District (ESUSD) was established in 1912 to serve all of the residents living in the City of El Segundo and covers the western part of the city. ESUSD consists of six schools including the Eagle’s Nest Preschool, Richmond Street and Center Street Elementary Schools, El Segundo Middle School, El Segundo High School and the Arena/Virtual High School, as well as partnerships with the South Bay Adult School and California Regional Occupational Center (SoCal ROC).