Broken Arrow Schools awarded 'STEMulating Teaching' Grant

Friday, January 24th 2014, 10:36 pm
By: News On 6

Broken Arrow Public Schools is getting a $146,000 teaching grant. It will go toward boosting STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math courses.

This grant will not only impact Broken Arrow, but will also help surrounding school districts.

At Rhoades Elementary, kindergarten through fifth grade students get to take a STEM class. Teachers say this type of learning is the way of the future.

In Andrea Sagely's STEM class students get to experience a different way of learning.

"Yeah, it's pretty cool," said fifth grader Jillian Ross.

In this class Ross gets to learn things like engineering, demonstrated through Lego's.

"We're just learning about pulleys and in this case gears. How they connect to other things and make it able to move," said Ross. "You're getting to be creative with building and it's a lot to do with architecture instead of just sitting there having to write all the time."

Broken Arrow Public Schools started its elementary STEM program in 2013. It focuses on teaching students how science, technology, engineering and math all work together.

"Once they come through the door, I give them a challenge. They go through the engineer and design process, they have to figure out how to make things work instead of just read it out of a book," Sagely said.

Instructional Specialists Rebecca Morales and Kerry Weingartner applied for a $146,000 federal grant called STEMulating Teaching.

"A lot of data shows that we have a lot of jobs that are opening up in these areas, but we aren't having a workforce prepared to fill them," Morales said.

Weingartner added, "It increases their learning. They're able to see how one connects to the other. They've become more involved in their learning process. It's just kind of a ripple effect."

The district plans to hold a workshop where 21 teachers from Broken Arrow, Jenks and Owasso will all STEMulate their lesson plans.

A very important component of STEM is collaboration and it's also in the spirit of education that you want to make good opportunities to students, no matter what district they're in," said Morales.

The workshop will be taught by University of Tulsa professors.

I cannot say enough good things about them, true advocates for public education. Very, very supportive in this entire initiative," Morales said.

Administrators hope the summer workshop will help expand STEM classes to secondary schools.