Over the course of the summer months of 2018, this column featured the seven high schools of Desert Sands Unified School District. Each school was introduced to the community. Comments received about the series were very popular. This summer we return to the format with the introduction of our seven traditional middle schools as well as our K-12 independent study school. They will appear in no specific order.

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Welcome to La Quinta Middle School – STEM Academy, the first comprehensive STEM school in the Coachella Valley. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Bulldog PRIDE constantly runs deep throughout our campus through our actions. Both teachers and students have taken ownership of our STEM and AVID Pathways – seamlessly  embedded within our daily practices. (Advancement Via Individual Determination)

La Quinta Middle School recently completed a three-year renovation of the campus that transformed classrooms into modern instructional centers, added industrial makerspace labs, an innovation center, a completely updated and enlarged media and library center, expanded art rooms, a fitness center, updated administration facility, and a new state of the art science building.

A Look at La Quinta Middle School STEM Academy

2018 rededication of the school following completion of construction. Left to right: Superintendent Scott Bailey, DSUSD Board member Linda Porras, then DSUSD Board President Gary Tomak, Principal Dan Borgen, then DSUSD Board President Pro Tem Wendy Jonathan, DSUSD Board member Donald Griffith, then DSUSD Board member Michael Duran.

The 21st Century modernization supports and showcases the STEM mission ensuring that La Quinta Middle School students will continue to improve their skills in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math, while also experiencing learning that will improve their ability to problem solve, think creatively, collaborate with others, and communicate their knowledge.

In addition to the STEM focus, LQMS takes pride in having established a safe and supportive learning community. This past year, LQMS earned national recognition, placing first for participation in See Something, Say Something Week.  The week teaches students how to recognize warning signs, signals, and threats of potential violence and the importance of telling a trusted adult. Students participated in a variety of activities promoting youth violence prevention and the celebration of friendships. La Quinta City Mayor Linda Evans commended students for their commitment to promoting a safe and friendly campus and declared February 25, “Say Something Day” in the city of La Quinta.

A Look at La Quinta Middle School STEM Academy

Bulldog Orchestra

In addition to rigorous core and STEM classes, students have a variety of high interest electives from which to choose: band, percussion, drama, journalism, advanced fitness, yearbook, ceramics, art, animation, ASB, and AVID. Lunchtime activities provide students with daily opportunities to play volleyball, basketball, ping pong, corn hole, soccer, chess, and even tennis. Student run intramural tournaments provide organized competition throughout the year. Lunchtime also provides additional opportunities for students to connect with classmates who share common interest by joining clubs: Club Live, Promise Club, Art Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Rubix Cube Club.

But it is our STEM program that truly sets us apart from any other middle school which is why it is important to share a few of our current classes.

In Energy and the Environment students are challenged to think big and look toward the future as they explore sustainable solutions to the world’s energy needs. Students investigate the impact of energy on human life and the world. They design and model alternative energy sources and evaluate options for reducing energy consumption.

Shark Tank utilizes the engineering design process to question everyday problems and design real world, meaningful solutions. Student-generated solutions are presented and reviewed by a panel of experts for critical feedback and rewards,

Stop-Animation exposes students to the range of traditional and digital techniques used in stop-motion, claymation, and 2-D/3-D animation. Students learn the basic theory and mechanics behind animation, develop observational and drawing skills, and study the fundamental principles of character design, layout, and storyboarding.

In Medical Detectives students analyze genetic testing results to diagnose disease and study DNA evidence found at a “crime scene.” They solve medical mysteries through hands-on projects and labs, investigate how to measure and interpret vital signs, and learn how the systems of the human body work together to maintain health.

Students in Automation and Robotics learn about being mechanical, electrical and computer engineers by building, wiring and programming automated systems.  They start by learning how mechanisms work and what they can be used for, and end with designing mechanical systems that function autonomously to solve real world problems.

The world of aerospace comes alive in Flight and Space. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build, and test a glider. Students learn about the history of flight and space, aeronautics, and what it is like to travel and live in space.

In Design and Modeling, students learn about architecture and engineering and associated jobs and are challenged to build prototypes of things that make the world better and help people.

In Green Architecture students learn about architecture and construction by exploring dimensioning, measuring, and architectural sustainability. Students design a one-story home from reclaimed shipping containers and turn it into housing that is not only functional and affordable but also sustainable. Students use Autodesk’s® 3D architectural design software REVIT, Architectural scale rulers, Architectural templates, Design Brief, and a Decision Matrix.

A Look at La Quinta Middle School STEM AcademyComputer Science: Innovators & Makers teaches students that programming goes beyond the virtual world into the physical world.  Students are challenged to creatively use sensors and actuators to develop systems that interact with their environment. While designing algorithms and using computational thinking practices, students code and upload programs to micro-controllers that perform a variety of authentic tasks.  The unit broadens students’ understanding of computer science concepts through meaningful applications. Teams select and solve a personally relevant problem related to wearable technology, interactive art, or mechanical devices.

App Creators introduces students to the field of computer science and the concepts of computational thinking, through the creation of mobile apps.  Students are challenged to be creative and innovative, as they collaboratively design and develop mobile solutions to engaging, authentic problems. Students experience the positive impact of the application of computer science to society as well as to other disciplines.

It is an honor to be the principal of La Quinta Middle School – STEM Academy.   Our stakeholders of staff, students, families, and community members are creating a dynamic learning environment that is preparing students for high school, college, career and life.  This is an exciting time to be a Bulldog!







Image Sources

  • Rededication of La Quinta Middle School: DSUSD
  • Bulldog Orchestra: DSUSD
  • Welcome to LQMS: DSUSD
  • High tech classroom: DSUSD