Innovation In Middle School


STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM), combines rigorous concepts that increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills through unique hands-on project-based learning opportunities. Based on the Stanford D-School Model of Design Thinking students' learning starts with empathy and real-world problem-solving. Students gain a level of understanding about combining their passions with technology and careers that blend STEAM components.


Middle School projects focus on identifying problems in and outside our community and finding creative ways to solve them. Through projects like outreach soap making and 3D printing, future cities and medicine drone dropping devices for remote areas. Students learn to utilize the tools in our Innovation and Design Hub while tackling and bringing solutions to real-world issues in our communities and world. 

STEAM MOBILE Lab: Sylvia's STEAM Dream Mobile lab created by (Kathy Brandon) provides equitable and inclusive STEAM learning opportunities to students at schools throughout our local community. Elementary students are led by AIM 8th-grade students utilizing the STEAM Mobile Lab to deliver the unique benefits of STEAM education to nearby Philadelphia Schools.

Design Thinking: Design thinking brings in the four pillars of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and  communication to each unique project for our students, allowing for an increase in confidence, capabilities, risk-taking, perseverance, and responsibility. Establishing a solid foundation in design thinking is an essential part of the AIM's STEAM classes. Not only do students learn about technology, but they also apply creative design and art in their projects.  Middle school students get to experience projects ranging from lantern building to coding games to establish a wide range of skills while learning how to make their projects have real world impact. Students are encouraged to experiment and leave their comfort zones. Design Thinking teaches students not to be afraid of failure but embrace the learning it gives.

Community Outreach: Certain middle school projects not only enrich students but also aim to make a difference in the community through inclusivity and targeted help. Students in 7th grade have developed adaptable games designed to be played by differently-abled players, and 8th-grade students work to design healthy food trucks to address food deserts in Philadelphia.           

Kathy Brandon, Middle School STEAM

Kathy has transformed the Middle School STEAM curriculum at AIM since her arrival in 2018. Kathy has been an educator for 27 years and has a Masters in Education, focused on literacy. Kathy is passionate about getting literature into the hands of all students, as well as, outreach to provide innovation, critical thinking, and access to all things STEAM.