Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 1, 2014

Lt. Governor hosts STEM town hall meeting at middle school

Curriculum encourages hands-on problem-solving skills
Mar 07, 2014
Photo by: Trisha Phelps Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds

By TRISHA PHELPS

Mt. Pleasant News

According to the Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds during her STEM town hall meeting at the Mt. Pleasant Middle School yesterday, “greatness stems from Iowans,” and STEM classes in elementary, middle and high school can prepare students for greatness after graduation.

STEM, an acronym for for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in the classroom encourages students to use hands-on problem-solving skills to find solutions and bring students’ ideas to reality.

“I think this does a much better job of preparing students and opening up the options that are available to them,” said Reynolds. “I am more of a hands-on person, that is how I learn best. I am not one who can just read something and learn it. I need to just get in there and do it, see it, be a part of it.

“For students who learn this way, this can make such a difference,” she continued. “I believe in their future going forward. Some kids just don’t have someone at home to tell them that they can be anything they want to be, anything! And I think when they start participating in in STEM activities and classrooms and then see for themselves that they can do it and they start to think differently. When you start to think you can do things, your whole world opens up. I wish I could have had this when I was in school.”

During the town hall meeting, several students from MPCSD had a chance to show the Reynolds what STEM learning meant in their lives.

Fifth-grade students from Van Allen Elementary showed research they were doing with materials they obtained through a STEM grant funded by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. Their research projects included learning about the effects different amounts of water can have on different types of soil using the Carolina STEM Curriculum. The Carolina STEM Curriculum is a science and technology concepts program developed by the Smithsonian Institute. It is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum that explores life, earth and physical sciences as well as technological design.

Students from Mt. Pleasant Middle School also go in on the action by showing their robotics project based on the STEM program Project Lead the Way (PLTW), also funded by the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

PLTW is a nonprofit organization and the nation’s leading provider of STEM programs, and helps students develop problem-solving skills needed after graduation.

The Mt. Pleasant High School robotics club brought their robot, Da Footur, to show Reynolds during her visit. The club, made up of Sam Pang, Austin Riley, Abby Bixler and Andi Petro demonstrated their robot’s ability to drive the span of the gym floor, spin around and wave a flag.

“They are doing math and science and technology and they don’t even realize that they are learning,” said Reynolds. “Students are having fun and I also like how this is like the real world. Doing this is challenging, frustrating and isn’t easy, but every student’s presentation ended with them saying how much fun they were having.

“STEM learning helps students see the relevance to what they are learning,” continued Reynolds. “I had one young man come up to me and tell me this gave math a purpose. This helps students figure out what they like and really opens up their eyes to real world application of their skills.”

Reynolds touched on different ways communities can rally behind the school and support STEM learning, and how community support is vital to students’ success.

“There are so many ways that businesses and industry can support STEM learning,” said Reynolds. “Aside from financially, another way would be to go into the classroom and talk about what their expectation is, what the workforce is like and their facilities.”

Reynolds will continue her STEM town hall tour across the state over the next several weeks and speak with other communities about the importance of STEM learning.

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