'STEM INVESTIGATIONS' COMING TO WILKES MIDDLE SCHOOLS IN '14-'15
An overview of a new initiative emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in the four Wilkes County middle schools was given during the Wilkes school board meeting Monday afternoon.“STEM Investigations” will be among exploratory class offerings in all three grades of the Wilkes middle schools starting in August 2014, said Anna Lankford, assistant superintendent for the Wilkes schools. It will also increasingly be part of science, math and language arts classes, said Mrs. Lankford.Exploratory courses now available to Wilkes middle school students each semester are band, chorus, art, computer skills/business, exploring technology, physical education and health.STEM education strives to integrate science, technology, engineering and math in hands-on, collaborative learning while emphasizing critical thinking and problem solving, she said. It’s been identified as essential to college and career success and to producing the workforce needed for U.S. competitiveness in a global economy.Mrs. Lankford said Wilkes school officials want to increase STEM literacy of all middle schools students, not just those who might attend a four-year university or career techeducation students..She said ACT scores have increased in schools that have used the STEM Academy curriculum, which is the STEM curriculum chosen for the Wilkes middle schools.The curriculum, designed for use by teachers of all core subjects, is divided into:• “discovering STEM” for sixth-graders, with one activity from each STEM area, “hands-on, minds-on learning” and flexibility for teachers in delivery and material choice. Potential unit topics include manufacturing a product, discovering architecture, properties of flight, discovering sketching and drafting, lighter than air vehicles and introductory and advanced robotics.