Educational Services Center Waconia Middle School

The Video Production Club at Waconia Middle School is an after-school project-based learning program that engages students to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). 

Each week students advance their skills by exploring something different in areas such as robotics, coding, and circuitry. To deepen their interest and understanding in STEM, students produce videos of their projects to document their learning.  

“Everyone here has different interests, and the students enjoy trying new activities each time we meet,” Mandy Bellm, media and digital learning coordinator, said. 

In a recent club meeting, students were able to test the new VR (Virtual Reality) headsets by utilizing the Google VR 360-degree Tour Creator app. After exploring places around the world through virtual reality, students used the remainder of the hour to work with the robots. By using green screens and technology, students were able to  see their robots on places like the moon, Mars,  and Antarctica.

Bellm not only uses the STEM-related tools for the after-school club but for all of her middle school students. “We are introducing new experiences to students in layers, starting in elementary. With each new layer, their skills will increase. By the time students get to high school, they can explore deeper and have a better understanding of what classes interest them the most.” 

Bellm and her colleagues continue to empower students to foster active learning, persistence, and mindfulness. Through a federal grant provided by the Minnesota Department of Education, media specialists in grades 3–8 collaborate to create interdisciplinary lessons that incorporate metacognitive tools, media production, coding with robots, and design thinking.