Here at Santa Rita Ranch, we believe in the importance of learning, whether that’s learning from the land or learning in a school of excellence right here in the community. We believe in inspiring students to attain excellence of their own, to become lifelong learners, to take pride in their work, and, of course, to always have fun along the way.
Because of our ongoing dedication to education, we believe it is so important to have Santa Rita Elementary right here at our master-planned community in Liberty Hill, TX. It’s also why we wanted to expand Santa Rita Elementary by funding an on-site lab that will provide hands-on learning opportunities for STEAM education in the classroom.
What is STEAM education?
STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art, and math—the pillars that hold up a quality education, and vital skills needed for many of today’s top jobs. With this mission in mind, the Liberty Hill ISD recently accepted a proposal for the 2021-2022 Excellence in Education fund which will allocate more than $98,000 for a state-of-the-art science lab and STEAM lab, as well as an after-school robotics program at Santa Rita Elementary.
With a STEAM education in the school, students learn important skills in a hands-on way while also collaborating, exploring, getting inspired, and blazing their own trail—all things we encourage here at the Ranch and learning in a school of excellence!
What’s in the science lab and STEAM lab?
The new science lab at Santa Rita Elementary will be designed with Texas state science standards firmly in mind. It will give students the opportunity for direct, hands-on experiences with a focus on exploratory learning, activities, and resources appropriate for all grade levels, from Pre-K to fifth grade. The STEAM lab will be in the same room as the science lab, and it will provide students with a space to apply and develop STEAM skills as part of a school of excellence. Students who aren’t actively in the lab will have access to its resources through take-away bins that teachers can bring into the classroom.
How will the new STEAM lab be used?
Teachers will have considerable leeway over the use of the new STEAM lab, but students will spend time in the lab at least once every grading period. The entire class can participate in an activity together, or students can divide into smaller groups and work at stations. STEAM education is as much about individual exploration and development as it is about collaboration, however, and students will be encouraged to explore individual discovery projects to pursue their own interests and blaze their own trail, learning to apply creativity alongside analytical skills.
Why is STEAM education important?
Research has shown that children who are exposed to STEAM education early on develop advanced problem-solving skills and fare better in academics overall. That’s why we believe it’s so important for even our youngest students to get quality exposure to STEAM concepts early on, so that they can be equipped for lifelong academic success. Exposure to STEAM concepts at the elementary level cultivates an early love of science that prompts more students to pursue careers in STEAM fields.
Of course, one of the most exciting aspects of this new Excellence in Education funding is the new after-school robotics program at Santa Rita Elementary. Both Liberty Hill Junior High and Liberty Hill High School already have robotics teams, and by adding a robotics program at the elementary level, we will help to build the program district-wide. Elementary students will gain the experience and background they need to compete in future TCEA Robotics competitions, where they collaboratively design and construct robots and then compete to see whose robot comes out on top!
A robotics program is a fun, practical, hands-on way for students to practice the STEAM skills that they’re learning in the classroom and in the new STEAM lab. Students in the program will learn coding and other STEAM skills by collaboratively designing and building their own robots using LEGO Robotics sets. This team effort will build important skills as well as close-knit friendships as students work together to produce work that they can all take pride in.
The new resources provided by the science lab and STEAM lab will be available to all Santa Rita Elementary students, from Pre-K to fifth grade. Teachers who want to create STEAM experiences in the classroom can go to the lab and check out STEAM bins filled with activities and resources. Thanks to the new labs, students can prepare themselves for a future of academic excellence and a lifelong love of learning and STEAM skills.
Of course, the new STEAM lab and science lab at Santa Rita Elementary is just one of the many exciting things happening throughout our community every day. If you want to keep up on all the latest news and developments concerning Santa Rita Ranch, area schools, and our master-planned community, the best way to do that is to sign up for our Ranch newsletter. Just fill out the short form, and we’ll keep you up to date on all the fun, exciting, and important news and events that affect us and our neighbors here in the Texas Hill Country.