As a STEAM school in District 11, Bristol Elementary's purpose is to grow strong, confident learners by using problem-solving and creative processes to develop deeper understanding and connections in all content areas. Students at Bristol receive weekly STEAM lessons, where current science and math content is integrated, in order to apply students knowledge and deepen their understanding of the state standards, including Next Generation Science Standards. STEAM at Bristol is based on problem solving through collaboration, communication, critical thinking and an engineering design model. Students receive lessons on the importance of a growth mindset. During STEAM instruction students are encouraged to take risks. Critical thinking through planning, designing and creating solutions to real world problems is a key component that supports learning across content areas. In addition, students are exposed to a wide variety of innovative tools, practices such as 3D pens, early computer science skills through coding and programming robots, media production (stop motion video), creating electric circuits to build various tools like flashlights, creating digital presentations, creating solar powered devices, extensions of visual arts and movement, as well as career pathway education.
The integration of the arts with STEM, creates increased opportunities for students to solve problems and create in a wide variety of ways. Students are able to interact with content through innovation and creativity.
According to the advocacy group Americans for the Arts, Arts education has undeniable benefits:
- Stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills.
- Has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries.
- Strengthens problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success.
- Develops a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting-skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond.
- Teaches children life skills such as developing an informed perception; articulating a vision; learning to solve problems and make decisions; building self-confidence and self-discipline; developing the ability to imagine what might be; and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish.
- Nurtures important values, including team-building skills; respecting alternative viewpoints; and appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions.