STREAM school flows in Hamilton Middle School

  • These student won the STREAM school sled contest.

Brianna Laarman
Associate News Editor

STREAM school is a new program this year at the middle school, and is only available for 7th grade students this year. Next year STREAM school will be available for 7th and 8th graders.

STREAM school is an acronym for science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and math. The 8th grade curriculum for next year will be mainly focused on science and ELA (English language arts).  Both classes will be held in the afternoon so the students can still attend band, art and MP3.

STREAM school is a way to connect what the students are learning in the classroom and applying it to real life situations, using Project Based Learning. The teachers, Mr. Ted Malefyt and Mr. Nate Alkire, have partnered with local professionals to develop ideas on how to connect the content learned in class to a project.

The students have completed three projects thus far. Project Footprints, project Gone Fishin’, and project Let’s Race.

“These projects help the student know that what they are learning has a purpose. Not just  this is the answer because the book says so,” STREAM school teacher Mr. Nate  Alkire said.

Project Footprints was created with one driving question, how do we minimize the impact school groups have on the Hamilton High School wetland? To answer the driving question the students worked in groups, of 3 or 4, to create a presentation. They presented their proposal at Haworth in front of a panel of experts called the “shark tank”.

This project allowed the students to serve a need within their own school community. After the presentations and much questioning the panel of experts came up with three groups that had the best ideas to answer their driving question.

In project Gone Fishin’ the students helped contribute to an ongoing study at Hope College. The students went fishing and charted data about the growth and development rates of the fish in their local wetlands. In the process the students learned about the life cycle of the fish and the possible factors that affect the fish’s life cycle.

This project had one driving question as well, how might we bring a fresh perspective on the life of fish within the Lake Macatawa watershed. To solve the driving question the students created an art gallery at Hope College on Thursday, December 18, 2014.

The most recent project completed by stream school students was project Let’s Race. The students started learning the math concepts of speed and acceleration. After the students understood the math concepts, they created and tested a variety of cardboard sleds, preparing for the race that was held on Wednesday, February 4 in a “March Madness” style tournament.

“You don’t just learn from being outdoors, you learn how the stuff we do can be used in your adult life and these projects we do help people with different ideas and sort of make them happen,” seventh grader Alexandria Simmons said.

The students love this type of setting, hands on and still learning what the state requires them to learn as a 7th grader. There are about 58 to 60 students currently in stream school, and there is a mixture of students, which Mr. Alkire and Mr. Malefyt see as a good thing. There are students who excel in a subject that others don’t and are able to help peer to peer understanding the difficult standards. For example the students who are better at math are able to help the students that aren’t as good.

“The students learn the same material, take the same quizzes and tests, but statistically are doing better than the other students not in stream school,” STREAM school teacher Mr. Ted Malefyt said.

“STREAM school is different because we have an opportunity to make our world a better place not only for us but everything,” seventh grader Kiara VanDenBerg said.

Clearing the hill

Clearing the hill

Clearing the Hill_2

Clearing the hill

Packing down the snow

Packing down the snow

Waiting there turn

Waiting their turn

Ready, Set, Go

Ready, Set, Go



The Winners

The winners


The students had to apply to get into STREAM school. On the applications the students had to answer two essay questions. Mr. Alkire and Mr. Malefyt didn’t even look at the students applications.

The applications were turned into the secretaries at the middle school, Mrs. Grotenhuis and Mrs. Henrickson. They put a number on the application and removed the name. Then a group of people read through the applications and turned the numbers back into the office, from there the names of the students were put into a class list, and those students were notified about being accepted.


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