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Newport school district gets Project Lead the Way $30k grant to bring STEM education to every student

The Newport Independent School District has received a $30,000 grant from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to bring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to every student in Newport during the 2016-2017 school year.

PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers throughout the United States. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science and provides teacher training and resources to teachers so they can get students engaged to learn the STEM disciplines.

Tommy Thompson, sixth grade science teacher for Newport Independent Schools, helps Marquise Thomas use a microscope.

Tommy Thompson, sixth grade science teacher for Newport Independent Schools, helps Marquise Thomas use a microscope.

“I am so excited that our students now will have the opportunity to learn 21st century skills through PLTW,” said Amy Gilikison, Chief Academic Officer of Newport Independent Schools (NIS). “The future careers of our students depend on their ability to create, design, and collaborate with others and PLTW will engage them in activities that involve all of these skills.”

Of all career pathways PLTW offers, NIS chose to focus on biomedical science. In the PLTW courses, students will learn problem-solving strategies, critical thinking, and how to communicate and collaborate in this field.

Launch, Gateway and Biomedical Science stages

NIS will implement all three stages of the PLTW program: Launch, Gateway and Biomedical Science. The Launch stage is designed for K-5 students. Shane Campbell will teach the course to students from kindergarten to second grade and Alice Gabbard will teach third, fourth, and fifth graders.

This stage of the program is exploratory in nature and encourages students to keep discovering more about the subject matter. Students engage in critical and creative thinking, build teamwork skills, and learn to try and try again when faced with challenges. In this stage, students will work on projects, such as designing a robot that delivers supplies to a hospital, constructing a rescue method for a trapped zoo animal, and proposing methods to prevent the spread of illness.

Tommy Thompson will teach the Gateway stage, which is designed for students in their middle-school years. This stage is aimed at sparking the joy of discovery and show the range of paths and possibilities students can look forward to in high school and beyond. These middle-school students will work on problems, such as examining the way to cut energy consumption and creating mobile apps that help people overcome obstacles.

Arthur Curry will teach the final stage of the program, Biomedical Science, as a course at Newport High School (grades 9-12). Students will step into roles of medical investigators, surgeons, and biomedical engineers. Students will work on collaborative, hands-on projects, such as designing and developing prosthetic limbs, conducting studies on the benefits of mobile-health clinics, and creating public-service campaigns.

Hands-on experience

“I am incredibly excited to facilitate the biomedical course for our high school students and to show them the possibilities for employment in the biomedical field,” said Curry, a Newport High School science teacher.

“This course is very hands-on, activity-oriented, and inquiry-based program,” he said. “Students will learn about human physiology, biology, medicine, and research processes to determine the factors that led to the death of a fictional person.

“Students will examine autopsy reports and medical history as well as explore medical treatments that may have prolonged the person’s life. They will have to design their own experiments to solve these problems. Each year, we will add another course to this career/college tract.”

Teachers play a major role in PLTW program and the organization provides teachers with support and resources needed to devote more time to inspiring students. Through PLTW professional development, teachers learn to facilitate, coach, and inspire. The teachers will go through PLTW’s comprehensive training courses in Lexington and Dayton, OH over the summer.

“While implementing PLTW, the district plans to reach out to community partners and stakeholders to provide on-going support for our students who are involved in the program,” Gilikson said. “Through these partnerships our students will be exposed to a wide variety of STEM-related careers.”

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