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OrthoWorx Continues Strengthening STEM in Local Schools

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OrthoWorx Indiana Posted by: OrthoWorx Indiana 10 years ago

The Warsaw Inquiry Learning Lab will be coming your way soon! Photo courtesy of Warsaw Community Schools.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at Warsaw Community Schools (WCS) is a major focus for current and future curriculum developments.

With help from OrthoWorx, the Orthopedics Capital Foundation and the “Moving STEM Forward” initiative, several recent developments are ensuring a strong future of STEM education for students throughout the district.

What started three years ago as a single STEM Academy at Washington Elementary School, with small pockets of STEM elsewhere in the school system, has grown into a corporation-wide initiative. A group of 15 individuals comprised of educators, administrators, staff and community STEM advisors recently attended the Smithsonian K-12 STEM Road-mapping Workshop in Washington, D.C. to assess the current programming and future needs of STEM curriculum in WCS. This weeklong intensive workshop yielded a clear project plan, including specific timelines, and identified individuals responsible for action on each of the strategic plan’s steps. This delegation recently presented its findings and proposal to vertically integrate STEM throughout the school system to the School Board at a working session. The plan was received favorably with support from the Board, which embraces project-based learning but also values the state’s defined educational requirements.

“We are being very strategic about professional development and curriculum regarding STEM education,” stated Ben Barkey, Warsaw Community School STEM Advisor. “It’s really exciting for a corporation to come together on one curricular piece, K-12, and spend time with all of the stakeholders in our community to put together a cohesive strategic plan.”

Project Lead The Way is one resource being used to further develop STEM teachers and curriculum within the corporation. Both Edgewood and Lakeview Middle Schools will have trained, on-site STEM and project-based learning representatives at their facilities. Four teachers were sent through the training program this summer. The goal is that several classes at the middle school level will start to implement STEM and project-based learning through robotics, engineering and CAD-like software into their curriculum by the second or third nine-week grading period. There is even potential in the future for integrating this programming into the elementary level at schools not currently involved with the corporation’s STEM initiative.

Another exciting addition to STEM education in WCS is the Warsaw Inquiry Learning Laboratory (W.I.L.L.). This high-tech, mobile learning lab is designed to bring STEM to all the schools throughout the system and to community members. W.I.L.L. features grade specific lessons focused on engineering and our local orthopedic industry. Students in grades one through six will participate in pre-W.I.L.L. activities, project-based lessons on the bus and post-W.I.L.L. activities that allow them to reflect on the lessons they completed. W.I.L.L. also provides teachers an opportunity to refine their STEM inquiry based learning teaching skills. Classroom teachers will work extensively with an instructional coach, offering them personal, hands-on experience in STEM instruction. Lastly, W.I.L.L. serves as a way to showcase STEM education at WCS to the community. The bus will be seen at First Friday events, football games and other school events, and local festivals.

“Every time someone sees the bus either in front of one of our elementary schools or at a community event, they will see the commitment that WCS and our community partners, like OrthoWorx, have to ensuring the highest quality of STEM education in our schools,” commented David Hoffert, Superintendent, Warsaw Community Schools.

For more information about OrthoWorx’s Education and Workforce Development Initiative, please click here.

For more information about WCS, click here.

For more information about Project Lead The Way, click here.