- PCS provides Professional Development (PD) and expert training on PCS products as well as on general STEM integration into the classroom.
- Our PD goals are to 1) make teaching STEM easier by providing teachers with appropriate tools and guidance; 2) Provide students with opportunities to acquire 21st Century skills for success in the global economy.
- Jesse Bastian, Director of Training, manages the delivery of our PD programs in both physical and virtual formats. PCS PD webinars are highly effective and popular with our product sites.
- Due to a higher emphasis on language arts backgrounds in elementary educators, a common challenge for many teachers is a lack of confidence and comfort in integrating STEM concepts into the elementary classroom. Research shows that improved confidence and familiarity with STEM results in stronger STEM implementations across the curriculum.
- PCS has developed and deployed a highly effective elementary STEM Institute model documented effective by university research and now in use in hundreds of classrooms.
- The market potential for this solution is large – elementary classrooms across the country as well as overseas.
PCS works especially hard to not only deliver outstanding products, but also support the teachers who use them. In our ongoing efforts to help teachers and administrators integrate STEM into classrooms, schools and afterschool programs, our professional development goals are twofold: prepare students for careers that require these 21st century skills, and provide teachers with the tools and training to teach these concepts.
One of the particular challenges that many elementary teachers face when attempting to teach STEM lessons in the classroom is unfamiliarity with the subjects. Teaching physics, technology, or engineering concepts may feel intimidating if not prepared with adequate training and content knowledge.
In addition to delivering products that incorporate science, technology, engineering and math, PCS also provides teachers with regular webinars and trainings that demonstrate methods for integrating 21st century skills into their lessons. PCS Director of Training, Jesse Bastian, creates custom trainings for each product that allows the teacher to clearly understand its application and objectives, as well as become more comfortable with content and subject matter. His innovative webinars allow teachers to look beyond the boundaries of standard curricula to engage their students.
The BrickLab Systemic Institute is a 30 hour professional development program for elementary teachers that develops student centered learning environments, improves student academic performance, promotes 21st century skills in students, and improves teacher comfort and competence in teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) across the curriculum.
The BrickLab SySTEMic Institute is based on the findings of a United States Department of Education funded research study that documented strong increases in teacher comfort levels teaching STEM topics.
The BrickLab Institute Model
An institute is comprised of two major components:
- A 15 hour physical workshop in which teachers come together to learn classroom management practices, how to work with the class pack of manipulatives that are included in the program, how to use the provided curriculum, and how to implement the program in their classroom.
- A 15 hour follow-up program that is executed by the teacher in the classroom and documented using an online educational support service. This second phase ensures that the program is properly implemented in the classroom. The illustration below highlights the highly effective reinforcement model.
Classroom Use After the Institute
Each teacher receives a classroom package of materials (the BrickLab) in the workshop that includes everything needed to implement it on a twice-weekly basis in the classroom (1 hour sessions two times per week). These twice-weekly sessions are designed to enhance existing curriculum and introduce inquiry and project based learning techniques as well as develop student centered learning practices. A primary focus of the provided lesson plans is on STEM topics with the objective of improving teacher comfort and competence in teaching these topics. Once a year all BrickLab classrooms participate in a school wide BrickLab Challenge that emphasizes an entire range of 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, communications, and collaboration.
The program impacts both educators and students in a powerful fashion.
- Builds Confidence in STEM Topics
- Stronger Integration of STEM Across all Areas
- Effectively Implements a Project Approach Platform
- Facilitates Inquiry Teaching Methods
- Facilitates Project Centered Learning
- Improves academic performance, especially in math and science.
- Communication Skills
- Team Skills
- Critical Thinking, Creativity, & Innovation
- Technological Literacy
- Career Development & Awareness
Ultimately, the BrickLab Institute serves as a catalyst for transforming the elementary classroom into a product centered, inquiry-based learning environment that drives 21st Century Skills.
Through the emphasis of STEM topics within the BrickLab curriculum and teacher-developed lesson plans aligned with their specific school standards, school administrators and curriculum coordinators can leverage this catalyst to promote STEM integration across the curriculum.
The BrickLab is a unique solution in that it provides a cross-curricular STEM learning experience with a very approachable, non-technical, non-threatening solution. As such, it is an ideal solution for elementary and primary schools around the world. There are very few products that have the ability to be integrated into each and every elementary classroom – most products target a specific grade level or topic. The BrickLab is both cross curricular as well as highly versatile for application to different age levels. This results in a very large market potential for the solution.
- There are over 50,000 public elementary schools in the United States – an estimated one million classrooms.
- PCS presently has BrickLab pilot programs operating in Egypt, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.
- Creya Learning, PCS’ distribution partner for India, is actively promoting and selling BrickLab into Indian schools.
“Every second of the workshop is valuable. You will be able to take this back to the classroom and get started immediately.”
“BrickLab was one of the best trainings that I have attended. It can be used in all content area with engaging activities. It is a great fun filled way to get students to use problem solving skills.”
“Designing, creating, building, testing, redesinging, evaluating – The BrickLab workshop allowed me to vividly experience all those STEM elements. And that experience was…FUN which makes me want to use it in my classroom.”
Dora Erickson Elementary
“This is fun and you can teach about any concept using bricks. It is amazing how valuable a tool this can be in your classroom”
Carberry – Emmett
“BrickLab will open your eyes to the idea that open ended, project based instruction across the curriculum is easier than one would think.”
Emmet School District.
“BrickLab is highly motivating and engaging to students as well as a valuable learning tool.”
Silver Sage Elementary
“The BrickLab uses hands-on activities to teach across the curriculum. It engages the students. They are having fun and not even realizing they are learning.”
North Glen Jr/Sr High School
“Great way to introduce hands-on material to an otherwise difficult topic to use class participation! Excites students and teachers about learning and extending lessons and ideas!” Heather Lyon – Stuart Elementary 5th Grade
“The bricks provide hands-on activities for all subject areas that all children will have fun participating in reqardless of ability level.”
“This was the best workshop I have ever been to! The time flew whenever we did that BrickLab portion of the conference.”
Dora Erickson Elementary
“Fun, Fantastic, Creative, and meets the needs of every child.”
“BrickLab reminded me that teaching should be “fun.” What a great way to incorporate problem sloving and communication into curriculum in a “highly” motivation medium…Loved it!”
Shadow Butte Elementary
“The material that one gets in this workshop can be taken right into the classroom and used with what he or she is doing.”
Aberdeen Middle School
“BrickLab teaches creativity, problem solving, and more in an engaging sitting!” Joni Mosher
“Engineering is a creative process. Creativity requires a fun, relaxed environment. Thanks for introducing me to the joy of engineering!”
A.H. Bush Elementary
“PCS BrickLabs have proved to be an excellent resource for our afterschool and summer programs. The prepared lesson plans enable our BrickLab Club to operate with little staff planning. The sturdy container allows for easy storage and facilitates the bricks being easily transported from room to room or site to site. The children love working with the BrickLab! The BrickLab Club is one of our most popular clubs.”
Supervisor – 21st CCLC
Madison School District
The PCS commitment to professional development sets our business model apart because our customer interaction doesn’t end with the sale; we continue to work with our teachers in a long term relationship in order to ensure student success. Ongoing webinars, site based training, and reinforcement mechanisms such as those implemented into the BrickLab Institute are the methods and tools we use to accomplish this.