Mt. Pleasant is in exclusive company, becomes one of four state school districts to receive grant
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
CEDAR FALLS — Mt. Pleasant was one of four school districts in the state to receive a $50,000 district-matched award to implement a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classroom in their schools.
Mt. Pleasant was the only school district among the four to gain the grant for implementation at the middle school level.
The recipients, announced Wednesday, were chosen from a group of 23 applications submitted through a request for proposals released earlier this summer.
In addition to Mt. Pleasant, the Davenport Community School District, Hoover High School of the Des Moines Community School District and Sioux Center High School received grants.
Mt. Pleasant will use the grant, which must be matched by the district, to create a new classroom at the middle school, replicating the University of Iowa’s Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage (TILE) classroom.
The classroom will serve as a model in its learning environment to facilitate collaboration, peer instruction and activities enhanced through advanced technology. The STEM classroom will serve as a prototype for a school redesign which may be duplicated in other classrooms the following year.
Mt. Pleasant will also be partnering with the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa and Iowa Wesleyan College to create a 21st century learning environment.
The TILE classroom will be the first of its kind in the country. It will promote student collaboration, peer instruction and activities enhanced as the result of access to networked computers and advanced technology.
Mt. Pleasant Middle School students in the TILE classroom will create 3D projects and place them into a virtual environment. The classroom will be student centered with teachers acting as “learning facilitators” and students taking responsibility for their own learning. The project is based on empowering students.
“The broad cross section of these recipients speaks to the importance of innovative STEM education in the State of Iowa,” Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “As the diversity of Iowa increases, both in the classroom and in the workforce, so does the need to educate students of all geographic, demographic and ethnic groups. The STEM learning environments will bring that focus in four model classrooms.”
“These schools are an example to the future of STEM education in Iowa,” said Mary Andringa, STEM advisory council co-chair and Vermeer Corporation president and CEO. “With the combination of powerful community partnerships and relevant curriculum, the STEM learning environments will prepare students for their next steps in college and the workforce.”
Initially, just three schools were to be funded, but corporate contributions provided enough capital for a fourth school to be included.
Implementation of Mt. Pleasant’s TILE classroom will begin during the spring semester.