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Straight A Funds would boost STEM

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published: May 7, 2014 12:00 AM
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Streetsboro City Schools is planning to expand its STEM offerings, hopefully with help from a $368,108 Straight A Fund grant.

The district plans to purchase a variety of equipment aimed at enriching offerings in its science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, according to Director of Curriculum Aireane Curtis.

The $250 million Straight A Fund was created to promote innovative local ideas and programs to help transform and modernize Ohio's education system. Streetsboro City Schools was among 446 local districts which applied for a portion of the money.

Curtis said she expects to learn in June whether the district won the grant.

If the district gets the grant, she said STEM programming, which is currently available at the middle school and high school, would be extended all the way down to kindergarten.

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"Each teacher K-5 will get a robotics kit," she said.

She said the district plans to buy two 3D printers, a laser engraver, a miller and robotic equipment to help the middle school and high school programs.

The grant also would pay for about 150 Chromebooks and 175 iPads, she said.

Streetsboro Middle School STEM teacher Rich Day also said the grant would pay for a CNC router and wind tunnels, which would most likely be used at the middle school and high school level.

The 3D printers would enable students to construct things they design on computers and on CAD software, he said.

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"If you're drawing a car, you could actually print out a car and roll it across the table," he said, adding students could design a car all the way down to interlocking gears, chassis parts and wheels.

The 3D printers use a spool of plastic as the "ink," which is melted to create different parts, he explained.

To help make use of all the equipment, Curtis said the district also would use a portion of the money to train teachers how to implement STEM programs.

"The goal of the first year, if the grant's awarded, is to have a lead teacher in each grade who's piloting this, then expand it out," said Curtis.

Repeated professional development on STEM is also important for implementing it across the district, she added.

"One of the things we're really trying to do is ongoing professional development with teachers," she said. "At the elementary level, its not as intense as it is at the middle school and the high school. Kindergarten to sixth-grade training is going to be here on site and it's going to be a couple days followed up by refresher courses."

Generally, STEM in the elementary grades focuses on robotics and how gears and different parts can interact, said Curtis. At the upper levels, there's more emphasis on programming and engineering with CAD software and actually building parts with the 3D printer and other equipment.

STEM expansion without the grant

Even if the district does not receive the grant, Curtis said the district plans to expand STEM coursework, just much more slowly.

"If it doesn't pan out, we'll still be adding another STEM course at the high school," she said. The course would be Principles of Engineering, and students are already enrolled for next year.

Streetsboro High School teacher Kyle Teague will go through a week of STEM training this summer so he can teach the course, she added.

Curtis said the district begin introducing STEM to the sixth-grade first since it will be a part of the new Streetsboro Middle School after the facilities project is completed in a few years.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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whizzard May 7, 2014 3:57 PM

The item Mr. Day is holding in his had is a spindle cover, that I designed and printed on my 3D printer.

Martin Fleming