New STEM course at RHS combining math and construction; Program to launch next fall

Riverton High School Assistant Principal John Griffith told the Fremont County School District #25 Trustees Tuesday night that a program that seeks to promote “real world” applications for students while involving the community and providing RHS students with dual credit opportunities is about ready for prime time.

Griffith said that over the past year, a team of some 16 Math, Science and Career Technical Education (CTE) specialists have been looking at ways to increase connections between the core curriculum and CTE offerings. What has emerged from that effort is a new program to be offered starting next fall that combines Geometry with home construction.

RHS Assistant Principal John Griffith detailed plans for an integrated mathematics and career education program to FCSD#25 trustees Tuesday night.

Griffith said a model for the program was piloted at Loveland High School in Colorado, and the team visited that school to see the program first hand. “We’ll have two instructors here and we’ll schedule the program for a two period block and we hope to attract 45 to 50 students, and we hope half of those will be girls,” he said. “We’ll build a house that will be placed at the old hospital site for Habitat for Humanity.”

The Assistant Principal said the program would be funded by a $65,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM, Grant. “We’ll use the same geometry curriculum we have now, students may earn three dual credits from Central Wyoming College and we’ll have a community service component. We’ve partnered with Habitat for Humanity for the home site and materials,” Griffith said.  The grant provides 25 days of professional development, construction tools and supplies for 55 students and duplicate geometry materials for 55 students. “We’ll receive the basic supplies we’ll need to bu ild a house with zero to minimal impact on our current programs and budget,” Griffith said.

He did say the high school would have to provide some of the specialized tools required for the class, such as a smart board, calculators and ladders. “The project will be constructed on campus, and then moved to the Habitat site when completed,” he said

Lined up to teach the class are Woodworking teacher Len Abernathy, who has 23 years of construction experience and Jeremy McCormick, an RHS Math teacher and coach who has 10 years of construction experience and 15 years as a math teacher.

Griffith said the outcomes in Loveland included a growth in female enrollment in the program from 22 to 51 percent, very high student interest and engagement and students earning 21st Century skills of teamwork, cooperation, community interaction and real life experience.

He said RHS will measure the program’s success with four benchmarks: Decreasing the gender gap by having 50 percent participation by female students, increasing the number of students taking dual credit math and CTE courses, Increased scores from standardized tests such as the MAP, BOE, PLAN and ACT, and completion and delivery of a home.

“What will stay with the kids is the creating and real word situations that they’ll experience during the project,” he said.

Superintendent Terry Snyder said he likes the new project. “It combines the old with the new real well, the combination of geometry and construction,” he said. “It will be a good project, a good class and I congratulate the high school staff for their work on this.”

The same sentiment was voiced by the trustees. “This likens itself to a career academy,” said Larry Christensen, but he had a key question. “Do you see any impact to the Hathaway curriculum since this will take a two hour-long block?” he asked. Griffith said there was a potential for that, but he noted that some students are doing language classes online this year, participating in the band and taking psychology classes outside of the Hathaway track. “If it comes down to a choice (between this program and Hathaway curriculum), we’ll do all we can to make sure the kids can make Hathaway,” he said.

The program will start next fall. Griffth said a tool shed will be added outside of the woodworking area, and he said a geometry classroom would be set up next door to minimize the time students would have to transition between classes. He said Loveland was able to build a house in one school year, “but they worked on it all day long, it might take us two years to complete the home,” he said.

Chairman Carl Manning said he liked the concept because it combined “hands on experience and learning techniques.” He also said the district would have other opportunities with STEM grants. “They will be very competitive, but I’m glad you’ve started with this.”

“We’re doing the best we can to integrate math into other programs,” Griffith said.

source: http://county10.com/2012/10/25/new-stem-course-at-rhs-combining-math-and-construction-program-to-launch-next-fall/

STEM learning takes flight
CHEYENNE -- Some kids strive to be teachers. Others want to become artists or sports stars.
But for those who have decided early they want to be astronauts, scientists and engineers, the Wyoming Department of Education has just the program.
NASA provided an $800,000 grant for the Powering STEM Education in Wyoming with Wind Energy project.
The state Department of Education hopes to see 500 middle-school students participate in the program, designed to spark an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
"That's the goal, to light a fire and get students excited about science and math and engineering, and all of those fields cross," McBride said. "We want to excite the kids about it because there is future employment in that industry, absolutely."
In the program, students will install 18 wind turbines throughout the state. They also will learn about alternate forms of energy career opportunities and climate change.
"We are at a position among industrialized nations where we need to boost our students' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics considerably," Paul Johnson, NASA Space Grant Consortium chairman, said. "I think this is a small and important piece of that, particularly for Wyoming students."
Each of the turbines are 33 feet in diameter and cost $8,000, plus $4,000 for installation.

"I think NASA believes we've done a phenomenal job of networking throughout the entire state. They also, I think, like the thematic approach we've chosen -- the wind energy," Johnson said. "It connects our students with what's going on locally with what's necessary to compete in a global economy." 


source: http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2010/05/21/news/20local_05-21-10.txt

Wyoming conference examines STEM education initiatives

Representatives from across Wyoming met in February to discuss the role science, technology, engineering and mathematics could play in the state’s economic future.

The day-long seminar was hosted by the Wyoming P-16 Education Council at Casper College and featured speakers from the education and STEM fields who focused on raising the quality of STEM education in the state.

“This is a consciousness-raising event to get all of these entities who are all thinking about this connected so that initiatives can be put together,” said Kelley Pelissier, executive director of the education council.

Pelissier said such initiatives have found ways to incorporate math and science into English lessons, and the key to keeping students engaged is an education that is applicable to their life or career.

“It’s going to take a cross-organizational, cross-institutional, cross-spectrum to get this done,” she said.

The final panel of the day sought to examine what a STEM and career technical education initiative would involve for the education industry as well as the work force.

Jack Bedessem, president of TriHydro Copr., said his company largely employs those with a background in STEM fields. He said that he looks for applicants with a well-rounded education and good communication skills, which is why he appreciated the discussion about how to better prepare students.

“It’s really important to have that broad background,” he said.

Joan Evans, director of state Department of Workforce Services, agreed and said that those in business should work with educators to create a student population that can fill the state’s STEM jobs.

“We need a common message, and we need a way to pull all of these efforts together,” she said.

Evans said it will take participation from Workforce Services and others in order to keep the seminar’s STEM effort moving.

Teri Wigert, division director of the Wyoming Department of Education, said a STEM initiative would also require a thorough examination of school standards. By 2018, Wigert said 55 percent of all jobs in the state that require a bachelor’s degree are expected to be in STEM fields. She said education should reflect that need.

“All of our collective efforts should prepare students for a wide range of careers in this century and in this global workplace,” Wigert said.

Rollin Abernethy, professor emeritus with the P-16 Education Council, said the first Wyoming STEM and CTE Summit was just the start of a larger project. By looking at other state’s STEM programs and getting an idea of where STEM and CTE education can be developed, Abernethy said Wyoming can create its own initiatives through a series of similar meetings.

“The next step is going to be to collate the input from today,” he said.

source: http://trib.com/news/local/casper/wyoming-conference-examines-stem-education-initiatives/article_8c09b543-98b8-51df-88a1-e6a831965737.html