Arlington STEM program giving students real world skills

ARLINGTON — Teams of middle school students are being asked to design sensible, sanitary and sustainable water parks over the course of an eight-day summer learning program this July.

After a successful Summer STEM pilot program with 35 high school students last year, Arlington School District has decided to host a new middle school course this year.

Registration is open now.

There’s only enough staffing and transportation for one age group, so the high school program is not happening this year, district spokeswoman Andrea Conley said.

Teachers hope to capture the energy and enthusiasm of the younger students and get them excited about using STEM skills to solve real problems. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“The emphasis is on giving students a more thorough understanding that science and math are not isolated fields,” Post Middle School science teacher Jennine Maner said.

“We’re part of a massive pool of knowledge out there that people use every day.”

From July 20 to 29, up to 60 students between sixth and eighth grade can participate in the Summer STEM program. They’ll be divided into groups of three or four to research and design a water attraction for Arlington. They can focus on a small spray park, or dream bigger with a sprawling aquatic center and thrilling waterslides.

“The students can really go off in every direction,” Maner said. “Because of the comprehensiveness of what they’re doing, they can come in at any level and make a lot of progress.”

The teams will work from the ground up, starting with sketches and site surveys to determine what type of space they would need and what is available in Arlington.

They’ll look at the cost of planning, construction and materials, and consider the likelihood that their water park could actually make money in the long run.

Teachers and tour guides will explain water quality and sanitation along with the affordability and sustainability of different pumps, cleaning systems and water recycling mechanisms.

By the end of the week, each group of students is expected to present a project proposal in front of a panel of city staff, local leaders and business managers who can critique their work.

There’s been a push to add more science, technology, engineering and math content to public schools for years, Maner said.

Recently, the focus has shifted to not just adding lessons, but also integrating STEM into projects that cross classroom boundaries and show students how different skills blend together in the working world.

For last year’s pilot program, students learned about energy options like solar, wind and geothermal power, then designed individual projects meant to decrease the energy consumption of the school district. Ideas included geothermal heat in buildings and solar-powered buses, Conley said.

“Kids’ comments last year were that they enjoyed it but it needed to be longer,” she said. “And whenever kids want to go to school longer, you know you’re onto something.”

If this summer’s project goes well, it will be used as the foundation for a project-based STEM lesson during the school year, Maner said.

“It’s really an exciting opportunity,” she said. “It’s the first of its kind here, and it’s something kids can really take advantage of.”

Last year’s Summer STEM program was paid for by the district. This year, students will be asked to pay $200 to cover space, supplies, staffing and field trips, Conley said. Trips include tours of water parks, water treatment plants, water pumping stations, fish ladders, dams and conservation areas.

The STEM program is one of a number of education options listed in the Arlington School District’s summer catalog, mailed to families and available at the district office, Conley said.

The popular NeoBots Robotics camps are back this year. A new “bookmobile” is starting this summer and will stop by neighborhoods around the city every Wednesday so students can check out reading materials. Programs for bilingual students, early literacy and high schoolers who need to make up credits for graduation also are available this summer.

To learn more or sign up for a summer program, visit

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439;

Talk to us

More in Local News

Members of South County Fire practice onboarding and offboarding a hovering Huey helicopter during an interagency disaster response training exercise at Arlington Municipal Airport on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. The crews learned about and practiced safe entry and exit protocols with crew from Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue before begin given a chance to do a live training. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish, King counties train together for region’s next disaster

Dozens of agencies worked with aviators Tuesday to coordinate a response to a simulated earthquake or tsunami.

Police stand along Linden Street next to orange cones marking pullet casings in a crime scene of a police involved shooting on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lake Stevens man identified in Everett manhunt, deadly police shooting

Travis Hammons, 34, was killed by officers following a search for an armed wanted man in a north Everett neighborhood.

Funko mascots Freddy Funko roll past on a conveyor belt in the Pop! Factory of the company's new flagship store on Aug. 18, 2017.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Lawsuit: Funko misled investors about Arizona move

A shareholder claims Funko’s decision to relocate its distribution center from Everett to Arizona was “disastrous.”

1 stabbed at apartment in Lynnwood

The man, 26, was taken to an Everett hospital with “serious injuries.”

A firefighting helicopter carries a bucket of water from a nearby river to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. Highway 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Red flag fire warning issued west of Cascades

There are “critical fire weather” conditions due to humidity and wind in the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

A house fire damaged two homes around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Photo provided by Marysville Fire District)
Fire burns 2 homes in Marysville, killing 2 dogs

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire north of Lakewood Crossing early Tuesday, finding two houses engulfed in flames.

A transit rider steps onto a Community Transit bus on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Police: Passenger randomly stabs man in neck on bus in Everett

The two passengers reportedly did not know each other before the attack. Police arrested a suspect hours later.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace eyes one-time projects for $2.4M in federal funds

Staff recommended $750,000 for a new roof and HVAC at the library, $250,000 toward a nonprofit facility in Lynnwood and more.

The Snohomish River turns along the edge of the Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve at Thomas’ Eddy on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
To build a healthier Snohomish River, more log jams

About $2.8M in grants will help engineer log jams, tear down levees and promote salmon restoration at Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve.

Most Read