By: Granger Meador
The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation is again spearheading the effort to raise funds to expand the use of elementary STEM modules in the district’s elementary schools. The group has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 to help provide biomedical or engineering modules across all kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms, along with an additional cart of iPads at each elementary school. The group announced the effort at the September meeting of the Bartlesville Board of Education.
Last year the Foundation sponsored a successful Challenge Grant for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) that provided over $85,000 to pilot the use of Project Lead the Way’s Launch STEM modules in all kindergarten through fifth grade classes across the district, thanks to the generous donations of community members and partners. ConocoPhillips provided an additional $35,000 for the effort. Those funds provided a mobile cart of 30 iPads and grade-specific Computer Science modules for each of the district’s six elementary schools. The district brought in Project Lead the Way trainers to conduct several days of summer training on the modules with lead teachers from each school Those teachers in turn provided training for all participating classroom teachers in August, with follow-up training next January.
Woodrow Wilson Elementary Principal Tammie Krause remarked, “Our fifth graders LOVE the new Launch program. The teachers have said that kids are very excited about learning and love the use of technology to do so. The classes all cheer when the teachers say it’s Launch time!” The fifth graders are learning about modeling and simulating infections, while lower grades are learning about animals and algorithms, animated storytelling, grids and games, programming patterns, and computer system inputs and outputs. The district now offers a continuous Computer Science pathway from kindergarten through high school, thanks to the elementary Launch modules and middle and high school computer science courses.
The Foundation’s new fundraising effort seeks to provide a nearly continuous Biomedical pathway across the schools, adding new Launch modules on the human body, animal adaptations, variation of traits, the human brain, and infection detection. After the elementary programs, students could go on to existing courses like Medical Detectives in middle school, and then could pursue life science courses at the high school as well as Medicine and Biosciences or Pre-Nursing programs at Tri County Tech.
Superintendent Chuck McCauley expressed his gratitude for the Foundation’s efforts, saying, “We must rely on community support and fund-raising to expand our STEM offerings in our elementary schools. The Launch modules reach students at a critical age to engage their interest and support their later pursuit of STEM courses in middle school and high school. The long-term pathways we are building will prepare Bartlesville students for in-demand, high wage, high skills jobs and careers.”
Community members are urged to contact Blair Ellis, the Executive Director of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation, for more information on how they can support the program. Her email is EllisB@bps-ok.org and her phone is (918) 336-8600 ext. 3523. Supporters can also directly donate at the Foundation’s website, bpsfoundation.org, by clicking on Donate and then the “Elementary STEM initiative” link.