Getting children excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM subjects) can be a challenge for any teacher but DeKalb Middle School has a new tool this week to ignite students' interest: the STEM mobile.
The STEM mobile is at DeKalb Middle School this week. Its a mobile learning laboratory that provides a unique, on-site educational experience for students. This mobile classroom brings much-needed technology to the doorsteps of DeKalb Middle School, and the students have access to state-of-the-art equipment to help them to promote STEM learning in creative and hands-on ways.
The STEM mobile is the product of the Oakley STEM Center and Tennessee Tech University as part of the Upper Cumberland Rural STEM Initiative, a grant project funded by Tennessee's First to the Top program. UCRSI is part of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, whose mission is to enhance student participation and interest in STEM subjects.
Housed in a 53-foot tractor-trailer with self-contained power, the STEM mobile has its own heating and cooling system, a satellite uplink for Internet connectivity and workstations to accommodate about 24 students at a time. This classroom on wheels is stocked with equipment from the Oakley STEM Center, TTU, and includes equipment and supplies for activities for each grade level. Materials are on board and ready to go for grade levels.
“We are partnering with the Millard Oakley STEM Center Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville for a two year Math/Science Partnership Grant with learning communities for Manufacturing Careers,” said Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7th-12th.
“Through our partnership grant, participating schools receive one week of the STEM mobile use at no charge. The students enter the lab and follow teacher/online instructions to complete a group project,” she continued.
“The ultimate goal of STEM education is to encourage students to take an interest in STEM subjects at an early age. This should be beneficial to them when they enter the jobs market, and in turn it should benefit the greater economy,” said Cripps.
Teachers participating in the grant are Suzette Barnes, Nancy Cowan, Martha Melching, and Lesa Hayes from DeKalb Middle School, Karen France and Jessica Antoniak from DeKalb West School, and Brad Leach from DCHS-CTE.
The STEM mobile is designed to help students learn more about three core STEM themes particularly relevant to rural students:
*water, with a focus on its importance, usage and conservation;
*energy, which highlights how power is generated, ways to lower consumption, green energy and long-term energy needs; and
*my food, my body, my health, which help students learn more about agriculture, health, nutrition and physical fitness.
“The DeKalb County Schools System has partnered with the Millard Oakley Stem Center in Cookeville for many years. Their ongoing effort to provide free materials and training for our teachers has been very beneficial,” Cripps concluded.
You may visit www.ucrsi.org. for more information about the STEM mobile.