Students and staff explored a new teaching initiative in the classrooms of Bowley Elementary School.

May 7 through 11, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Week offered students an opportunity to explore creative thinking and problem solving through engaging, hands-on activities.

The STEAM initiative is designed to encourage students to think outside the realm of formal reasoning, encouraging them to embrace the ideas of teamwork and unconventional problem-solving in a group environment.

“It’s to enrich the children; to help them to flourish; to help them understand their areas of interest. And also on the teachers side, it helps teachers understand the different modalities in teaching,” said Grace Colonair, a teacher a Bowley Elementary School. “They’ve done a great job of coming together with partners and working together as a team. We’re explaining to them how that is the real world, that you have to work together while getting them to step out and not be afraid to take that risk,” she added.

Through the hands-on learning approach put into place by the STEAM initiative, teachers are given the chance to observe their students as they apply concepts from all areas of learning, even two concepts as diametrically opposed as art and science, to solve problems without the constraints of a typical classroom setting.

“We were supposed to be learning how to engineer stuff, some things about construction... I wish we did this more often, we’re enjoying this way more than regular class,” said Elisha Escalante, 11, a 5th grader at Bowley Elementary School and a Pearsal, Texas native.

Allowing the children to decide which avenue to take when solving problems gives them an opening to learn and hone important concepts, but also lets them escape the monotony of daily lectures.

“My goal, always, in education is to show how fun learning can be. Even if we’re doing math projects. When they learn at a very young age how those math standards can apply to their real lives, they will embrace it more readily and apply it to things that they do instead of just sitting at a desk and thinking that they have to memorize the facts,” said Colonair.

The Fort Bragg community’s dedication to academic excellence and teamwork are a major force in making sure that Bowley Elementary School’s first STEAM Week was a shining success.