Real-world STEM learning is strong in District 191
Our students are applying real-world skills and hands-on learning to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) projects across the district. I’m amazed, impressed and proud of our students and what they’re achieving.
For example, engineering students at Burnsville High School are designing a new protective case for the Chromebooks that are issued to all students and teachers in District 191’s secondary schools. Josh Holtzleiter, Zachary Matthews, Tim Johnson and Raymond Kwong are working together with Acer, the manufacturer of the district-issued Chromebooks, along with District 191’s technology department to build a case that is more robust than the cases currently given to students and staff.
Another group of Burnsville High School students is assisting Principal Lyle Bomsta with a project at William Byrne STEM Elementary School to create an augmented reality sandbox, based on those created at the University of California-Davis. It’s a great interactive learning tool for a STEM school to have because it combines science and technology to learn about water use, erosion, landforms, weather, concepts like cause and effect, and much more.
The students – Fiona Chow, Josh Johnson, and Garrett Riedesel – are designing the most efficient mount for the projector and camera. In addition, they will program the software and calibrate the equipment.
Fiona is a standout student who was recently selected for the TWIST EPIC Award from Target Corporation's Women in Science & Technology. The award honored 25 young women in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas for their dedication to STEM. As a TWIST EPIC award recipient, Fiona now has a mentor who works at Target in the cybersecurity field and will job shadow him.
In addition, Fiona joined with three other seniors (Emily Reynolds, Katherine Do and Anna Warmka) to start a new club at Burnsville High School this year to encourage and support girls interested in STEM careers. They know that women are under-represented in STEM jobs and they want to change that dynamic.
It’s not just Burnsville High School that offers amazing STEM opportunities. At our middle schools, we have Project Lead the Way, a STEM curriculum that is all about problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, collaboration and communication.
Makerspaces have been created in our elementary and middle schools. These creative learning environments encourage students to create, collaborate and learn by building in a self-directed way. The hands-on approach means students immerse themselves in problem solving while building life and career skills including planning, critical thinking and communication.
At our 10 elementary schools, Digital Learning Specialists are teaching vital tech schools to all students and also coaching teachers on embedding technology in their daily instruction.
We’re bringing families in, too. Burnsville High School hosted our first “Family Hour of Code” during worldwide Computer Science Education Week on Dec. 7. In our schools, students in kindergarten through grade 12 have opportunities to learn coding, which is telling a computer exactly what to do by giving it step-by-step directions. We want parents to understand what coding is and why it’s important to future careers.
As Burnsville High School computer science teacher Cindy Drahos said, “With computers everywhere, we need to encourage and engage our students’ interest in computer science. Every student deserves the chance to learn computer science to access the best careers of the 21st century.”
Cindy Amoroso, Superintendent