Green County School District lies in the little town of Greensburg, Kentucky, a rural city with a population of about 2,000 people. There are five schools within the district that span pre-k through high school grades. In a rural area with little industry, it is hard to come by the type of educational resources that will prepare students for future careers in science and technology.
The Green County Intermediate school has fully implemented seven Woz ED STEM pathways. Students in grades 3-5 are able to explore subjects such as Drones, 3D Printing/Engineering, Mobile Development, Discovering Animation, Robotics and Coding. The school is gearing up to purchase several more in the coming school year. They also recently purchased two Science Pathways at the elementary level and are excited to start teaching them in their classrooms.
When I talked to Donna Young, the principal of Green County Intermediate School, she told me that one of the district’s main goals is to achieve a deeper learning level amongst the students through project based, hands-on learning. The district’s recent partnership with Woz ED is allowing them to make significant progress towards this goal. Donna says,
“We aren’t having to reinvent the wheel because it’s all laid out for us in this curriculum.”
The Wheel of STEM
When asked about the struggles of starting a new STEM program, Principal Young said funding had been her largest area of initial concern. She has since learned there are many great opportunities available through organizational grants. Thanks to a nationwide push for STEM programs, many grants are being provided that prioritize STEM projects. The district has found a significant partner in the Steele Reese Foundation, a trust dedicated to supporting rural communities, which has awarded Green County multiple grants to purchase STEM and Science resources.
Principal Young shared that the most difficult part of the implementation process has been creating lesson plans that allow deeper learning. With Woz ED pathways, creating lesson plans and accessing the right resources for engaging students is made possible.
Not only has STEM provided new learning opportunities for the students, but it has strengthened other areas of development such as communication and collaboration. Principal Young said that a challenge for many young people entering the workforce is the existence of a gap in verbal and written communication skills.
She has noticed that these types of skills are embedded within the Woz ED curriculum along with STEM and Science concepts. Students are learning and growing in numerous areas whilst having fun, experiencing play, and experimenting with technology. It’s a win, win situation.
Let’s Talk Action
Donna Young shared some exciting projects and ventures that are happening in her district right now. The fifth graders at Green County are currently working on a project using the engineering design process to create renderings of downtown Greensburg. These creations will be displayed in the Greensburg Historical Museum this year once they are finished.
As an expansion of the programs being offered at the intermediate school, Green County Middle School has also recently started the process of implementing two Woz ED STEM pathways in the areas of Robotics and Drones. These programs will allow sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students to continue exploring learning opportunities in science.
The hope is that these pathways will pair nicely with the current curriculum and the district will continue to build out the program in a streamlined way down to the lower elementary level and up through the high school level. The teachers in the district are eager to start implementing these lesson plans and learn alongside their students.
Students as Teachers
Donna Young shared with me that her favorite part of being an educator is
“realizing how much these kids already know and seeing how much more they are learning every day.”
She is amazed at how much these kids are able to accomplish and what they are able to conceptualize.
She has seen STEM education as a way for children to connect their genuine interest and curiosity with school. Up until this point, school and fun have been entirely separate. Now, kids learn things at home that they bring into the classroom and vice versa. It’s a wonderful sight to see that newfound spark in their eyes as school becomes something they want to attend because it is interesting and engaging. She ends by saying,
“I learn more from them everyday than I have ever taught them.”