Dansville schools use space simulator to explore STEAM curriculum

DANSVILLE, MI. (WILX) - In this edition of Schools Rule, WILX News 10 is talking about a new program at Dansville Area schools that lets students dive in to their lesson plans with a unique twist.

When you hear the word 'simulator, you might think of something like a video game. Dansville schools are putting a twist on gaming and they're using it to explore the 'STEAM' curriculum.

"Everybody has just seen the value in it and when you watch the kids and how excited they are, learning things they may not have found as interesting before just has been really great," said Angela St. Amant, the STEAM teacher at Dansville.

They call it 'AGGIE STEAM.' It's the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math curriculum at Dansville Middle School.

"The kids really have to work together and collaborate and communicate," said St. Amant. "All of those really important 21st century skills that we can't just teach them, like creativity, collaboration, communication."

So what makes the Aggie STEAM program so unique? The school has actually converted a classroom in to a spaceship simulator. SO WHAT

"I think it's a really big opportunity," said St. Amant.
HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
Here's how it works: depending on the lesson plan, students could be learning about space or even the human body. When they're ready, they'll step in to the simulator to complete a mission as a class.

Those missions could be navigating an asteroid field or curing the flu. The missions have to be completed collaboratively.

"They each have unique individual jobs. There engineers, there's doctors, there is a captain, an officer, a navigator, a pilot," explained St. Amant. "They all have different jobs that they have to be able to do to complete our mission."

"Knowing that I'm a gigantic role in the spaceship simulator really helps me calm down," said Jillian Fishback, a sixth grade student. "I'm a huge control freak so knowing that I'm a huge role just kind of helps me say, 'Okay, I'm really important to this. Everybody's important. Everybody has their own important job."

"It's good because no one could run that by themselves. Everybody else has to do their job," said Carter Tkaczyk, a sixth grade student.

Students, or 'crew members' will each get a specific role in the lesson and each is crucial to completing their mission.

"A lot of it is talking to that other person, finding out what they did and then adjusting. Adaptability is a big part of that," said Fishback.

Students start navigating their way through missions as early as third grade.

Ms. St. Amant says the simulator helps bring those lessons to life.