District Administration December2017 - 56

SPONSORED WEB SEMINAR DIGEST

Makerspaces, Drones
and Robotics: The Next
Generation of STEM Learning
Incorporating new technologies and taking a collaborative approach
A District Administration Web Seminar Digest * Originally presented on October 17, 2017
K12 STEM programs are evolving, incorporating new tools and technologies to better prepare students for
rapidly changing college and career environments. Makerspaces, drones, coding and robotics are all part
of this next generation of STEM learning that is just beginning to have an impact in districts.
This web seminar focused on incorporating these new tools. Presenters included the superintendent
of the Roscoe Collegiate ISD in Texas, where an Early College/STEM Academy has garnered national
recognition for its program, as well as the superintendent of Wallingford Public Schools in Connecticut,
which is expanding STEM learning opportunities by taking a collaborative approach with the community
and local businesses. In addition, a grant funding expert shared specific, actionable funding resources that
can help support STEM initiatives.
Kim Alexander: In 2000, we noticed that disadvantaged
students would graduate high school with good test
scores and good grades, yet in many cases walking
off that graduation stage was like walking off a cliff.
The best part of their life was now behind them. As we
started drilling down, we realized that a high school
diploma by itself would no longer get these students
where they need to go.
We implemented early college in 2009. We evolved
into a schoolwide early college, and now a schoolwide
STEM academy. Last year 27 of our 28 graduates
completed an associate degree through Western Texas
College before they graduated high school. In Texas
there are 2.5 jobs for every unemployed person in the
STEM fields, and 3.3 unemployed people for every one
non-STEM job. It's a no-brainer. We're in an agricultural
region of Texas; there are 60,000 agriculture-related
jobs per year that require a bachelor's degree or higher,
yet only 35,000 are being filled.
We have two basic STEM tracks: biomedical science
and engineering. Students in the clinical pathway who
have a straight-A average can enter seamlessly into the
College of Biomedical Science at Texas A&M. Students
in engineering can enter the College of Engineering at
Texas Tech.
We have multiple system and higher ed partners, and
we've started advancing into business partnerships.

Office Depot is one of our corporate sponsors. We
partnered with a drone company in our area to develop
a pilot training curriculum for our students to gain FAA
commercial pilot certification for commercial drone
flight to become part of a projected $82.5 billion industry
by 2025. Office Depot did a great job of packaging and
marketing that through their 1,400 locations across the
country.
Our mission is to move education from theory
to practice to turn as many educational situations
into laboratory hands-on learning, which can lead to
scholarships at the university and graduate level.
Sal Menzo:We're looking to offer authentic opportunities
for students to have relevant learning experiences. We
work very collaboratively with our community to do
this. We have significant industry-manufacturing, lowtech, high-tech and everything in between. We need to
prepare students to go into that workforce and to make
those companies viable. But we want to go beyond
that, to make sure that all of our students are coming
to those courses with the correct mindset, the correct
focus on problem-solving and problem-finding.
One of our challenges is there's a lack of interest in
the STEM fields. So we wanted to increase student
engagement, to reinvest in creativity, and to have a
mindful eye toward next-gen science standards as we

View, comment, share this story online at DAmag.me/officedepot
56 December 2017

District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration December2017

District Administration December2017 - Cover1
District Administration December2017 - Cover2
District Administration December2017 - 1
District Administration December2017 - 2
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District Administration December2017 - Cover3
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