Soirée Kids: What Role Does STEM Play in Learning?

The Pulaski County Special School District boasts many dedicated educators and administrators from 26 schools across central Arkansas, which includes the DRIVEN Virtual Academy now starting its third year with the District. Dr. Justin Luttrell, PCSSD director of STEM, is looking forward to another year of the STEM is LIT program and what is to come in the field of STEM.

“STEM is LIT! is an initiative to expose students to STEM experiences by aligning ‘challenges’ to literary works, hence the play on the word LIT,” said Dr. Luttrell. “Throughout the year, our elementary students are given a modern literary children’s book accompanied by a STEM challenge. These challenges may focus on science, technology, engineering or math. In addition, we also seek to infuse fine arts into as many challenges as we can to create a well-rounded experience for our students.”

The benefits of STEM go beyond science, technology, engineering and math. STEM programs also provide students with opportunities and experiences that increase innovation, encourage curiosity, inspire creativity, build confidence and perseverance and foster community and collaboration.

“These ‘side effects’ of STEM programs help secure our future by preparing students to not only work but also live in a more advanced society than their predecessors,” said Dr. Luttrell.

Credit: PCSSD

PCSSD is seeing success related to STEM with the implementation of these programs.

“Last school year, PCSSD increased math proficiency scores at four times the state average. This is a huge statistical feat for any district, particularly one as large as PCSSD! The numbers were even higher for several of our elementary schools. Individually, we have seen grade level proficiency grow at various schools by as much as 30 percentage points. We hope to see similar results for the 22-23 school year. Furthermore, as we move into a new state assessment system and new math standards for the 23-24 school year, we seek continued growth and achievement in both math and science.”

All elementary students in PCSSD participate in the STEM is LIT! Program. On the secondary level there are remediation opportunities for students who struggle in STEM, and also acceleration opportunities. PCSSD’s goal is to include as many students in as many STEM experiences as possible.

Credit: PCSSD


Pulaski County Special School District spans more than 600 square miles in central Arkansas and requires highly skilled and passionate personnel to adapt educational policies and personalization to 26 schools. Every school is accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education. PCSSD has served schools across Pulaski County since July 1927.

PCSSD is committed to creating a nationally recognized school district that assures that all students achieve at their maximum potential through collaborative, supportive and continuous efforts of all stakeholders.

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