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Imagine a classroom in which students learn and apply subjects such as math and science through experiences such as gaming, coding, storyboarding, flow-charting and more.  This spring, teams of educators began working with S2TEM Centers on iSTEM CS, a professional learning experience designed to support teachers in facilitating this type of classroom learning.  Together, they will focus on strategies designed to better prepare South Carolina’s students to be tomorrow’s innovators. 
iSTEM CS is an innovation pilot funded, in part, by a grant from Boeing SC.  The pilot consists of 10 school teams from various sectors:  public, private, and charter – all from the Lowcountry region of South Carolina.  The pilot was designed recognizing that students face the daunting task of preparing for a technology-driven workplace informed by massive amounts of data.  These work environments will be much different than our current schools. Employees will be expected to demonstrate not only world-class knowledge, but skills and career characteristics that make them agile problem solvers and adaptive team members.  In short, they will be challenged to demonstrate a deeper sort of “literacy” than was ever expected of their teachers.
iSTEM CS focuses on the inclusion of computational thinking (CT) standards in middle grades science, mathematics, and other subject areas.   Computational thinking is a core element of computer science that involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior.  The initial foci include CT strategies referred to in training as the four cornerstones of CT. They are:

  • Decomposition - breaking down a complex problem or system into smaller, more manageable parts.
  • Pattern recognition - looking for similarities among and within problems.
  • Abstraction- focusing on the essential information only, ignoring irrelevant detail.
  • Algorithmic design- developing a step-by-step solution to the problem, or the rules to follow to solve the problem.
These four cornerstones work in conjunction with each other, and rarely in isolation. 
Teachers explore many different instructional techniques during the training.  They are encouraged to think outside the box and be creative with how they use the four cornerstones to engage students and increase their level of understanding.  One teacher implemented the strategies through "breakout games".  In this classroom, students were asked to use what they knew and had discovered about the periodic table of elements to solve problems and unlock clues to “breakout” of a virtual room.  Students used graphic organizers with diagrams, charts, and webs.  They also utilized storyboarding illustrating the sequence of an algorithm or procedure and flowcharting to demonstrate the concept and procedures surrounding the Pythagorean Theorem.

Students have responded positively to the program...
  • "I really like storyboarding because it teaches you how to organize and recognize how things are connected.”
  • “I like that we got to work together to figure out the answer.”
  • “It makes me have to think really hard to figure something out.”
iSTEM CS includes seven days of whole group learning facilitated by S2TEM Centers SC education specialists with the assistance of computer science practitioners from higher education, business, and/or industry.  Additionally, each team receives three days of on-site instructional coaching by S2TEM Centers SC education specialists.  This job-embedded support component is critical for CT standards implementation at the classroom level and the professional growth of pilot teachers.
An online library of teacher-tested computational thinking lessons and videos will be generated from the pilot and available on the S2TEM Centers SC website.  These videos will demonstrate particular cornerstones of CT, showing clips of the strategy in action.  Look for announcements related to the library in upcoming editions of Insights and on our social media outlets

To learn more about this project or how your school might get involved contact Regional Coordinator, Dana Thompson.
For more information on K-12 CS and CT standards check out these resources:

Visit our S²TEM Centers SC team!  They will be at the following conference offering sessions.

Wow!  So That's a STEAM Classroom

Designed for Administrators, participants will examine the components of a successful STEAM classroom as well as discover new ways to support and observe these classrooms. Facilitated by Alice Gilchrist.

Making It Matter:  Giving Purpose to STEM

Participants will explore purposeful and inexpensive ways to engage underrepresented groups in STEM.  Facilitated by Jodi Zeis.


100k in 10 Grand Challenges: South Carolina as a Model for Other States

Participants will explore the root causes and possible actions to address the critical shortage of STEM teachers nation-wide.   This topic is just one of many learning pathways offered to STEM education professionals during the conference.

Free Downloadable Math & Science Lessons

A collection of professionally developed K-8 lessons, aligned with the latest SC standards.

Explore our collection of STEM events and opportunities around the state.  

Have a STEM event you'd like to adverstise, visit STEM Linx!  Posting is free for registered users.  Add your opportunity to STEM Linx and you just may find it advertised in our next issue of Insights!


The Gene Machine Mobile Science Laboratory

This mobile science lab allows the technology and expertise of the Greenwood Genetic Center to come directly to classrooms across South Carolina at no charge to the school. Find out More!


Clemson University Life Sciences Outreach Center

Offering laboratory field trips in modern genetics and biotechnology to school groups. Students will use modern technology to generate and analyze results and to learn key concepts.  View a list of labs and for information on bringing CULSOC labs to your school.
Copyright © 2018 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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