Texas State Board of Education member Ruben Cortez, Jr. tours Victoria ISD elementary schools

Cortez visited Smith Elementary STEM Academy, O'Connor and Shields Elementary to see STEM programs being taught in Victoria ISD schools

VICTORIA, Texas – Ruben Cortez, Jr., from the Texas State Board of Education, or TEA, toured Smith Elementary STEM Academy and O’Connor and Shields Elementary. He toured the campuses to observe STEM programs being taught in Victoria I.S.D schools.

Some of the lesson plans have transformed at several V.I.S.D. elementary schools. Some now incorporate STEM lessons that expose the students to more hands-on activities and help engage critical thinking. Teachers use visual aids while teaching, such as Q-tips and clips to go along with their lesson plans. They also use encouragement when the students make mistakes, which is a part of the learning process. Teachers help the students find an alternative solution to their problems. All these elements can be found in the classrooms that Cortez toured.

Cortez wanted to get a first-hand look at Victoria I.S.D. implementing STEM education in the classroom. He says he hasn’t seen something like this at such an early grade level. Cortez also suggested exposure to STEM at a young age can be vital for teaching children complex problem-solving skills.

Cortez shared his perspective on STEM education

“Kids at this age are like sponges,” said Cortez. “They’re absorbing words and knowledge between the ages of 3 and 6. Any pediatrician will tell you that’s probably one of the critical times in the life of a child if you teach them some of these complex things.”

Cortez says that STEM programs at such an early age can have a positive impact on the students. He also noticed a fun learning environment in all the classrooms he visited.

Cortez was able to join in on one of the STEM lessons that students were working on and shared his experience.

“The little boy next to me had already laid it all out, with the clothespins,” said Cortez. “It took me a moment to kind of digest this. You saw his little mind instantly try to problem solve this.”

Cortez says that Victoria is a leader in STEM education at the early childhood level.