BPS Foundation raises $115,000 to expand elementary STEM

The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation announced at the Bartlesville Board of Education meeting on June 18, 2018 that it had raised $115,000 towards an expansion of the Project Lead the Way Launch STEM curriculum in the district’s six elementary schools. The Foundation exceeded its goal of raising $100,000 towards adding additional biomedical and engineering modules to the STEM program in all classrooms from kindergarten through fifth grade, which will help minimize the cost to the district of the program’s expansion.

Since 2015, Bartlesville Public Schools has been expanding its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program. Several high school STEM courses and all of the middle school STEM courses use national curricula from Project Lead the Way (PLTW), and this year both of the district’s middle schools were named Distinguished Schools in the program. They were the only public schools in Oklahoma to receive that honor.

During the 2017-18 school year, elementary school teachers were trained and implemented new computer science modules with their students. In 2016-17 the Foundation raised $85,000 via a Challenge Grant for that purpose, allowing the district to extend its PLTW STEM curriculum from the secondary schools to each of its elementary schools.

The continuing success of the STEM program led the Foundation to set an even more ambitious goal for itself in 2017-18. It raised $55,000 in grants from various local foundations and $60,000 in received and committed donations from local companies and individuals to fund another wave of modules and related technology for the schools.

In PLTW courses, students apply science, technology, engineering, and math in a hands-on approach to solve complex, open-ended problems in a real-world context. Students focus on the process of defining and solving a problem, not on getting the “right” answer. The instructor takes on a facilitator role and the students participate in self-directed and cooperative learning activities which allows for creativity and critical thinking.  PLTW courses are aligned to the career pathways of engineering, computer science, and biomedical science. Courses are designed to be taught in conjunction with a rigorous academic curriculum.

The district is building a continuous STEM pathway for students from elementary through high school so that Bartlesville students will be well-prepared for in-demand, high wage, high skill jobs and careers. The long-range plan goes beyond the biomedical and engineering modules slated for implementation in 2018-19 with two more years of additional engineering and biomedical modules until four STEM modules are part of every child’s education from kindergarten through fifth grade.

The Foundation and the district are thankful to the community for its continued generosity in making this program possible.