STEM Magnet Program at Bear Tavern

The STEM Magnet Program at Bear Tavern curricula is based on the idea of educating students in the four disciplines- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics through an interdisciplinary and applied approach. STEM education involves capitalizing on students' interests and cultivating a growth mindset by employing hands-on, collaborative tasks while infusing the “Engineering Design Process” into all areas of learning.


The STEM Academy starts in 4th grade at Bear Tavern and offerings continue into the middle school and eventually into the high school. The STEM Magnet Program is open to all students in the district and selection will be based on an application process that occurs each spring. New students will be accepted into the STEM Magnet Program in 4th grade or 6th grade. Please visit the links below for more information on the program.




If all the subject areas are combined, how will the students be graded? Will they receive the same type of report card?

The overall philosophy embraces integrated topics and practices through curriculum alignment. Curriculum standards in all content areas align with the HVRSD curriculum for all students. Teachers use a variety of assessments to monitor student progress and report that progress in a variety of ways. STEM students and families will receive progress updates throughout the year, including feedback via the current district-approved grade level report card.


Will the STEM curriculum follow the same “core curriculum” the other fourth and fifth grade classes follow?

Learning goals for the STEM Magnet Program at Bear Tavern curriculum align with those of the HVRSD grade level curriculum and meet the requirements set forth by the New Jersey Standards of Learning as well as the NJ Core Content Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.


Will all of the texts accessed by STEM students be informational and STEM based or will they incorporate some fiction that's age/STEM appropriate?

The STEM program employs a balanced literacy approach that features reading and writing workshop, guided reading, interactive read-alouds and word study...just as all other classrooms across HVRSD. Reading and writing units cultivate knowledge, understanding and appreciation of quality literature in narrative, informational and opinion/argumentative text-types. While some units may highlight science, math and engineering advancements or phenomena through literature and research-writing, students will still be exposed to high quality reading materials covering a variety of topics through teacher read-alouds and independent choice during reading workshop.

Will the writing component feature only scientific writing, i.e. “lab reports”?

Students will experience writing in all text-types (narrative, informational and opinion/argumentative) through the writing workshop model, as well as modeled writing. Focused attention on writing conventions(grammar and spelling)  is provided through revising and editing within workshop and more explicitly through word study. These methods and strategies are employed across all classrooms in HVRSD. Both the reading and writing curriculum align to the New Jersey Standards of Learning.


What resources will be used in the STEM class?

The STEM Magnet Program utilizes high-quality materials, innovative approaches and real-world resources. The STEM Magnet program also incorporates visits to authentic locations and from notable experts to supplement the learning experience.  Both onsite and off, students work with local institutions, such as the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed, TCNJ, Rider University as well as local physicians, engineers and scientists.  


Will the class be isolated or integrated with other grade level classes? Will they have specials and lunch with other Bear Tavern students?

The STEM students are integrated into the Bear Tavern School community in a variety of ways.  They eat lunch and enjoy recess with all grade level peers and they participate in weekly “Grade Level Morning Meetings” with all of their Bear Tavern peers. They also experience monthly “Den Group” meetings and all school assemblies.  As part of our school community, STEM families are always welcomed and encouraged to attend PTO sponsored events and celebrations throughout the year.


What type of enrichment programs does Bear Tavern Elementary School offer (before or after school)?

Bear Tavern offers Art Enrichment and Vocal Ensemble before school and a variety of YMCA sponsored activities after school as well as the full menu of district enrichment offerings.


Student Applications (see above) for fourth grade for the 2019-1920 school year should be submitted to the superintendent’s office by Friday, March 8, 2019.  Upon receipt of the application, parents/guardians will be invited for a brief information session/interview appointment.  


Participation is limited and if interest exceeds availability, a random lottery system will be employed to select participants.The number of STEM seats allotted to each sending school will be proportionally related to the percentage of applicants from each school.  The lottery will be controlled to ensure representation of both boys and girls. In the event that an applicant has an older sibling enrolled in the STEM Magnet Program at Bear Tavern for the 2019-2020 school year, that applicant will be exempt from the lottery and will be placed in the program.

If we are unsatisfied with the program after the first year, can we return to our home school for fifth grade?

Students are able to return to their home school and enter their original placements. If your child was identified for an Exceptionally Able program, she/he will be placed into that program upon return.


Are there other local public school districts that offer a similar program? Has HVRSD been following their progress?

Currently, there are no other STEM programs similar to the one in HVRSD. Many other programs offer STEM enrichment activities or electives. The vision of the STEM Academy in HVRSD at this time is to develop a class that views fourth grade through the lens of an engineer.