Above / Crone Middle School Principal Allan Davenport, right, with Crone students and a 3D printer hard at work.

STEM is more than just Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. It’s embedded into everything we do.

More than 3oo students and parents turned out to Crone Middle School in southwest Naperville Wednesday evening for STEM night to learn about real-world applications of STEM.

In contemporary education, STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In modern society, its objective is to furnish students with extended learning opportunities outside of the traditional curriculum.

Students attended four presentations throughout the night after choosing them from a list of 24 presenters showcasing authentic applications of STEM. Topics included renewable energy, forensics, robotics, aviation and food safety – just to name a few among a comprehensive selection of exuberant presenters and educators.

“STEM definitely has been a big initiative in School District 204 for the last several years and every year it gains more and more momentum,” said Crone Middle School Principal Allan Davenport. “Every year it just continues to grow.”

This year’s STEM night grew to 24 presenters, up from 12 last year.

School District 204 has consistently been at the forefront of technology and innovation, offering a wide array of curriculum choices beyond traditional math and science classes.

 The students of Crone Middle School are collecting donations to build a school in Ghana. They are about half way to their goal of $25,000. To donate, visit www.stayclassy.org/croneinghana.

“The District does a great job of supporting us in our endeavors. The Indian Prairie Education Foundation (IPEF) really helps with STEM.  You can tell (how well we are supported) by how many kids show up on a weeknight to do Science Technology Engineering and Math. It’s definitely a popular thing with the kids.” said Davenport.

As STEM has evolved in recent years, the acronym STEAM has emerged, adding Art to the mix.

“We have a Steam Team that meets every week. Every STEAM meeting there is about 100 students that show up,” said Davenport.

One of the STEAM Team’s prized possessions is a state-of-the-art 3D printer. Students are able to build working models, test designs and solve problems through tactile application.

“STEM introduces kids to the idea that learning is fun and ongoing … STEM is definitely going to continue to grow. We’re moving into the next generation science standards with Common Core. We’ve already moved to common core math. So those (things) are all lending themselves nicely to STEM and STEAM. Its preparing the kids for the 21st century…. More and more, STEM is being embedded into the (core) curriculum versus (being viewed) a separate thing. STEM is connected to everything in our society and it’s good for kids to see that,” concluded Davenport.