Santiago STEAM Magnet Elementary
Santiago STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Magnet Elementary School (Santiago STEAM) develops customized High-Quality Project Based Learning units to give students the agency to develop real-world solutions for issues directly affecting the school site. Student-developed and led projects include waste diversion and conservation initiatives guided by research and collaboration with local experts. The school is improving decades-old infrastructure with eco-conscious upgrades in water-efficient fixtures, Light Emitting Diode (LED) indoor/outdoor lighting, and heating and ventilation. School volunteer-led initiatives include the addition of efficient aerators to all sinks, highly water-efficient all-native gardens utilizing bioswales and soil remediation techniques, three-quarter acres of restored wildlife habitat and ecological learning spaces, a Green Parent Teacher Association policy including equitable low or no-waste events/programming, and the diversion of 70 tons from the landfill by using reclaimed materials for the construction of outdoor learning environments. All students partake in a positive behavior reinforcement program that recognizes good behavior with experiential rewards like being named recycling helper or lights-out leader, participation in a picnic lunch with a friend or teacher, and outdoor class sessions. Students have a fluid boundary, meaning that in many cases, they are welcome to step outside for a breathing break or take a moment in nature to re-center and find focus. In addition, the school planted an orchard to surround the school’s shaded outdoor cafeteria space, allowing students to observe the life cycle of the fruits they enjoy in their daily lunches.