By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Glasgow School Program To Open Doors For Future Engineers

 

Bonnie Davidson / The Courier

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Lab is coming to the Glasgow Middle School next year.

New opportunity will come with new classes and new classrooms in the next school year. One local teacher has been spearheading the efforts to bring a program to Glasgow that will encourage students to look at future careers in engineering, technology and design.

Jim Stone, who has been teaching at the Glasgow High School, is getting ready to make his move into the middle school next year. He's been chipping away at boxes and gathering equipment and supplies that will be needed for the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab. He's been knocking on doors and hitting pavement to get sponsorships from businesses and individuals to help support the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program that will hopefully begin at the middle school.

The "Gateway" program targets the middle school grades sixth through eighth, as students are just starting to look at what they might be interested in the future. The idea is that it will help provide a little experience to give students an idea of not only what their strengths are, but also what they might want to pursue. The curriculum is already built into 45 minute classes in nine-week units, which fit perfectly into the current schedule.


"It matches up with the core curriculum already laid out," Stone said.

Stone went to a training in Seattle over the summer where he experienced the program. They had one week of intense classes to get them through nine weeks of lessons where they learned about the program and then put that to use. He worked with another teacher designing and building a robot. Something that he will bring to Glasgow students next year.

"It's about coming up with their own solutions and critical thinking," Stone said.

Stone is set to visit other schools already implementing the program around the state, like in Billings, Bozeman and Missoula in February. He'll visit with a few other teachers that are planning on being trained for the program. The national program has businesses looking to invest in the program to help invest in skills that will be needed as these kids enter the working world or move into higher education.

"Students are forced to work together and they find their individual strengths while working with each other," Stone said.

The students will work in a more open classroom where the teacher is there to help guide them towards the goal. Their curriculum would be pulled up on computers that would list their goals and the projects they might be working on. Stone would work to facilitate projects and help teams or individuals one on one. As many of the projects, like building robots, won't have a certain way to do things, there could be endless possibilities to reach the final outcome. It will also help team members find out who might be better at designing, building or working on the mechanics of projects.


The idea is that as the program builds, more courses will be added on. It will start out with automation and robotics, later adding design and modeling as foundation courses. As the program grows it's possible that courses like flight and space, science and technology and medical detectives would be added. The program could also grow into the high school curriculum and give dual credit classes, giving students college credits for biological engineering, architecture and digital/electrical engineering.

Stone started seeking sponsors for the program to help pay for all the equipment that is needed to get started on PLTW. Sara Swanson Partridge, owner of Farm Equipment Sales, which carries John Deere was one of the first sponsors. She gave $10,000 for the program. John Deere is also a national sponsor for the program. She explained that the program would be a great fit and she hoped it would bring skills to workers that she might need in the future.

"It's an opportunity two fold, to have an opportunity in the school system, but it can also help get them a job with experience needed for local businesses," Partridge said.

She said that the program will help future workers have some real life applications, which will prepare them for the workforce. Technicians that work for her have to learn not only the technology side of the implement dealer business, but they also have to know some of the technical writing side to complete their work. Her donations helped purchase five robots and some of the other equipment needed.


Other sponsors that have stepped up are Boeing, with a $7,500 donation, Zerbes gave $4,800, the Office of Public Instruction chipped in $4,500 and the Glasgow High School Trust fund kicked in $1,600. Stone said that the local Soroptimist group donated another $250 recently to help purchase equipment.

A list of equipment is still needed before they can start the program. Businesses or individuals can find the list on the school district's website under the courses and classes tab, or by typing in http://www.glasgow.k12.mt.us/District/Class/119-Scottie-STEM-Program-Project-Lead-the-Way.

Stone is also prepping the lab by creating work tables, spaces for computers to fit and creating carts that have all the pieces needed to build and create the robots. The pieces can be taken apart and reused in future classes. So the initial costs of starting the program has slowed down the implementation. He explained that the progress in the room has been slowly coming together, but his excitement for the program has sustained him to keep pushing forward.

"I want the world in this room," Stone said.

Bonnie Davidson / For The Courier

Teacher Jim Stone shows Farm Equipment Sales owner Sarah Partridge the robots that her donation helped purchase for the school. The robots this year have been built by school clubs, but next year they will be part of the PLTW (Project Lead The Way) curriculum in a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab at East Side School.

 

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