The parents, teachers and staff of Palm Crest Elementary school take pride in offering numerous Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enrichment opportunities for PCR students. The opportunities range from after-school clubs that provide regular enrichment classes and activities, to the school's annual Science Exploration Week and the Science Fair in February, to specialized technology such as 3D printers that have been donated to the school. What began as interest and concern on behalf of individual parents and teachers about the lack of STEM opportunities has grown into an organized effort from a range of groups and individuals backed up by targeted fundraising. To show its dedication to STEM education, the PCR PTA created a special executive board position in 2014 to oversee and coordinate its myriad STEM activities. Listed below are the STEM offerings at Palm Crest. Read more about them, propose new ideas, and learn how you can help by volunteering to teach a class, help out in an activity, donate needed equipment, or sponsor a program or activity!

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STEM begins with Science and though specialized coursework in the sciences doesn't traditionally begin until high school, science education begins in the elementary grades and exposure to the various disciplines of science and the scientific method is key to stimulating interest in lifelong careers. PCR offers an array of science enrichment opportunities:

Science Exploration Week – Occurring the week of February 9th this school year, Science Exploration Week brings a week of special science activities and lectures. Teachers create special in-class science activities, science related talks and activities are held each day after school in the MPR, and our many parents who have careers in the sciences are encouraged to volunteer in the classroom talking about their passions and careers. The highlight of Science Exploration Week is the PCR Science Fair.

PCR Science Fair – The annual PCR Science Fair will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 6:30pm in the MPR. PCR students from all grades are encouraged to create a science project, which they carry out on their own or with a group of other students. Students propose a question to answer, apply the scientific method to answer or explore the question, and present their results in a poster display. Click here to learn more about the Science Fair and register online to participate.

Science Docent Program – Currently undergoing renovation, PCR sponsors a Science Docent Program where parent volunteers in each class work with the classroom teacher to present one or more special one-hour science activities in class throughout the school year.


The La Cañada Unified School District is already deeply committed to providing the technology to enable a 21-st century education. The District spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on computers, network infrastructure, and technology to assist teachers and staff, and move towards realizing its technology goal of 1-to-1 computing for every LCUSD student by 2017. Many of LCUSD's staff are dedicated towards planning, purchasing, upgrading, running, maintaining, and repairing that technology infrastructure. Others work full time educating our teachers about how to best utilize that technology in the classroom. The PTA's STEM Technology efforts focus on enhancing this already formidable technology with after-school clubs that teach subjects such as robotics, programming and 3D design.

In addition, together with the La Cañada Educational Foundation, the PCR PTA makes strategic purchases that lie just outside the means of the District's reach, typically on the bleeding edge of the rapidly changing technology front. In the 2014-15 school year, through a generous donation from the Georgina Fredericks Educational Foundation, the PCR PTA was able to purchase two 3D printers for the school. This was a first for elementary schools in LCUSD. PCR is piloting a special 3D Design after-school enrichment class as well as directed, specific 3D design activities in the upper grades that utilize the 3D printers.

Begun in 2012, the PTA Dad's Committee began offering an after-school enrichment course in Computer Programming and created the PCR Robotics Club. The Computer Programming course has grown in each of the last three years to now include two sections and reaches down to students in the 3rd grade. Click here to learn more about Computer Programming at PCR. The PCR Robotics Club was an immediate hit, signing up over 100 PCR students in all grades K through 6th in its first year. In each of the last two years the Club has sponsored teams of PCR students to compete in the FIRST Lego League (FLL) and VEX IQ international robotics competitions. In 2014 the PCR Robotics Club created an after-school Introduction to Robotics course to PCR 5th and 6th graders. This school year it expanded its after-school enrichment to include a Junior Robotics course for K through 4th grade students.  Click here to learn more about Robotics at PCR.


Though there are no specific after-school offerings in engineering at PCR, principles of engineering and design are covered in the PTA's Computer Programming, Robotics, 3D Design, and Science Fair programs. In addition, since a number of PCR parents work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, teach engineering at local universities, or have their own companies in the various engineering fields, PCR parents frequently sponsor in-class activities that enhance the regular curriculum taught by PCR teachers.



In 2010, motivated PCR parents helped spur the creation of an after-school math enrichment class for PCR students in the 5th and 6th grades. The aim of the class was to enhance PCR's already excellent mathematics teaching and focus on preparing PCR students for higher-level mathematics subjects like Algebra and Geometry at the Middle School. In the 2013-2014 school year, PCR parents created an after-school Math Olympiad program for PCR 4th through 6th graders. Math Olympiad is an international mathematics competition for elementary and middle school students. Students meet once a week after-school to learn problem solving techniques and compete in the Math Olympiad program. Click here to learn more about PCR's Math Olympiad program. In the Spring of 2014, PCR parents also started the Mathzilla! math competition, which pits 4th through 6th grade students from La Cañada's three elementary schools against each other in a friendly mathematics competition. The inaugural Mathzilla! event drew over 100 students from PCR, PCY and LCE.



With an annual budget of more than $10,000, PCR's STEM efforts are ambitious. However, PCR parents and staff remain committed to providing the best educational opportunities for PCR students. To help realize its goals, PCR's STEM program devotes a significant amount of time and thought to fundraising to support its STEM programs. The STEM leadership team writes grant proposals to foundations that support STEM education. Companies are solicited and encouraged to donate equipment or provide funding to specific PCR STEM programs. And finally, families and friends of PCR are encouraged to support its STEM efforts by making donations to the PCR PTA.

If you would like to make a donation of funds or equipment, please contact the PCR PTA Assistant VP of STEM. All donations to the school are tax deductible and we will provide you with a receipt for record-keeping purposes.