School Board Discusses Success with Defined STEM
LeRoy School Board hears presentation on STEM
LeROY — The monthly academic spotlight at Monday’s LeRoy School Board meeting focused on STEM education and a specific program used to augment classroom discussion.
Instructors Katie Buckley and Katie Carstens addressed the board about a Defined STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program utilized by the district and funded through grants from the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council (BNEDC).
Buckley, an instructor at LeRoy Preparatory Academy, has taught STEM enrichment courses at the elementary school and with Pre-K students, and partnered with Carstens’ fifth grade class. Currently Buckley teaches an eighth grade STEM Exploratory learning course and the district plans to have a similar course at the high school level next year.
The Defined STEM program discussed Monday links directly with the Google accounts the LeRoy district has been utilizing as part of its technology plan, Buckley said, and it gives students access to video content, various passages to read at an appropriate grade level and other widgets that students can utilize for interactive learning.
Junior high and high school building principal Jeff Baughman told the board educators have had four unique opportunities for training with the program, thanks to the BNEDC. He said more than 20 teachers have benefitted from the training.
Baughman said the software was recently utilized for a cross-curriculum junior high project aimed at investigating the crime scene of the Boston Massacre — the Revolutionary War catalyzing event of 1770.
Buckley also noted the Defined STEM program was utilized to teach students about the Twin Groves wind farm just outside of town through videos and reading passages. She also noted that water the treatment process was a recent area of study, and students were able to visit the LeRoy water treatment plant to further their understanding of the process as well.
The coursework features hands-on activities, and Buckley said students collected things to be utilized to filter water, and she brought in examples of other STEM-related projects completed with everyday items.
Buckley said a high school classroom is currently being utilized as a STEM lab, where her students can create projects related to course curriculum.
At the meeting, she showed the board some of the devices made by students, including a fan-propelled soda bottle on wheels that the students created, made aerodynamic and wired to run off a pair of AA batteries.
“There is such pride in ownership,” Buckley said of the students upon completion of the projects.
During the presentation, members of the school board asked what the student takeaway of the project was.
Buckley said other than pride in ownership, students learned problem solving, collaboration and improvisation.
Other projects included building structures from cardboard boxes and plastic fasteners — some of which were printed on high school teacher Bradley Marcy’s 3D printer. The classes also built catapults, roller coasters and other projects for their coursework.
Baughman credited Buckley for her efforts in utilizing everyday object in unique ways to teach lessons in the classroom.
“Katie is frugal in some very unique ways, and she is able to do some very cool things with everyday objects,” Baughman said.
Board president Kevin Daugherty thanked the educators for their dedication.
“This is what its all about,” he said.
Tipsord also took time to commend the BNEDC for their collaboration with local schools.
“This is something not available in a lot of communities,” he said.