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GRANTS HELP GROW S.T.E.M. PROGRAM AT GEORGE NETTELS ELEMENTARY - KOAM TV 7

GRANTS HELP GROW S.T.E.M. PROGRAM AT GEORGE NETTELS ELEMENTARY

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

Fourth grade teachers at Pittsburgs George Nettels elementary pick up a check Thursday night from the Pritchett Trust for twenty-five thousand dollars. The grant will help pay for supplies for STEM projects. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Its a bigger focus this year and a way of learning some students are embracing.


The students moved their desks into a different configuration to work on an experiment with gummy bears. The desks were the creation of the late Pittsburg State University professor Mike Neden who wanted more stem learning in schools.

Teacher Whitney Rogers said,
It was all his idea. Then he talked with Pitsco and they agreed to make the prototype. This is the one and only."

The moveable furniture became part of a bigger renovation. The school added doors to join together the fourth grade classrooms for collaborative STEM learning. It
s the ideal environment for Rogers who won a grant from the Rural Trust Global Teacher Fellowship for five thousand dollars. She chose to study in Taiwan which is ranked fourth in the world for math and science.

She attended some summer camps there, one for science and said of kids the same age, "They're programming robotics.  They were working with them, changing them, making them maneuver certain directions, really learning a lot about math and science through robots. So, that's something I'd like to do."

Rogers learned in Taiwan that  students spend more time after school on these subjects. So Rogers and fellow teachers created STEM focus Fridays, where the entire day is spend on STEM projects.  The first week: solar ovens.

Rogers said, "They learned all about   alternative energy, how the sun helps us, then had to construct or build, engineer a solar oven. We went outside, tested it, made s
mores. It was awesome and they loved it. Whenever the kids love learning, it makes a difference for them. It makes them excited and they score better."

Even though they're science projects, the students will incorporate math. The STEM project learning gets the students involved.

George Nettels principal Diane Jackson said they
re expanding STEM learning school wide because, "We're ensuring theyre getting to that level we want to get to for that conceptual understanding to take place and know that that engagement is there with the students."

Students checked their notes and created graphs to chart their findings in the gummy bear experiment to determine what samples weighed more and which got larger in length. But it
s a process they consider a better way to learn.

Caleb Miller said, "Instead of just reading,  you get to do the activity instead of just learning about it. "
And Riley Heikes said, "We also get to build stuff and measure stuff and that
s a lot more fun, especially using candy.

Mike Neden, PSU associate professor in technology and workforce learning,  passed away this summer from a sudden illness, but Rogers credits him with encouraging teachers to pursue grants that are helping the STEM program to flourish.

 

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