Missoula's Hawthorne Elementary School is just one of 44 schools in the country chosen for a STEM pilot program for students grades K-5.

Hawthorne Principal Becky Sorenson said on Thursday, March 20, that the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program was developed by Project Lead The Way, the nation's leading provider of STEM education curricular programs for middle and high school students.

"Typically, they have been involved with just middle and high schools," Sorenson said. "However, this year, they decided to branch out and create an elementary school program."

Part of the program involves 12 STEM modules that play an integral part in the development of the final version of the curriculum, especially for grade school students.

"These modules are just so much fun for our students," Sorenson said. "They're very hands-on, so the students build and test their designs. For example, our kindergartners are talking about structure and function, and that includes houses. So, they read the story of the Three Little Pigs, and they built a house of straw, a house of sticks, and a house of bricks, and then they tested the structures with the Big Bad Wolf. The wolf is actually an industrial fan, and of course their design doesn't always work, so using the design process, they build it again until they have learned how to build a strong structure."

Sorenson said the Project Lead The Way elementary program is designed for students in kindergarten through fifth grades, and will align with standards such as Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

Anyone with questions is asked to call Principal Sorenson at 728-2400, extension 4250.

Hawthorne Elementary Principal Becky Sorenson