STEM Bus rolls into Florence One
Last spring the School Foundation awarded funding in the amount of $50,000 for a grant proposal for a STEM bus for Florence 1 Schools.
Florence 1 Schools STEM Director Chris Rogers submitted the proposal which outlined a need for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classroom which would be used by all Florence 1 students. A STEM bus is a state-of-the-art, custom-designed mobile classroom, and its wheels are now ready to begin rolling onto the campuses of Florence 1 Schools.
On Thursday, school officials along with some community partners unveiled the new Florence 1 Schools STEM bus.
“The School Foundation has funded grants throughout the years supporting STEM in our schools. We are thrilled that the STEM bus will directly impact students in all Florence 1 Schools, affording them the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom,” said Debbie Hyler, Executive Director of the foundation. “The advanced interactive technology provided will enhance our students’ education, ultimately instilling the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the working community.”
The MUSC Health Florence Division has also partnered with Florence 1 Schools in its effort to provide the STEM learning experience for students in all Florence schools.
“Giving students opportunities to learn about health care, research and technology is important. MUSC Health Florence Division is proud to partner with Florence 1 Schools to support the STEM bus and bring more educational opportunities for our students and encourage them to pursue these jobs in the future,” Chief Executive Officer Vance Reynolds, MUSC Health Florence Division said.
STEM U, LLC, a consulting firm comprised of educators specializing in science, mathematics and technology, transformed the bus into an interactive learning environment that will provide a hands-on, engaging activity for the students.
"All students should be exposed to STEM,” said Chris Williams Director of Partnerships for STEM U, LLC. “Designing the STEM Bus ensures an equal playing field. STEM is not only the future, but it's a reality in our everyday lives. Understanding STEM and how it works to solve real world problems enables our future generation to have the ability to be competitive while having sustainable careers."
According to Rogers, the mobile STEM classroom will be scheduled to visit every school and remain at each location for three to five days, depending on the size of the school. Visitations of the STEM bus will be set up on a rotation basis. He expressed that the STEM bus is designed to help encourage an early love of STEM with STEM lessons at every level.
“We want our students to become both engaged and enthusiastic about STEM-related topics, which we hope will lead them to become future scientists, technologists, and engineers. When the STEM bus visits the campus of each school, our students will experience a world of exploration while understanding various concepts of STEM,” he added.
When asked why STEM careers were important, Roger pointed to these outlined statistics: According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. STEM degree holders have a higher income even in non-STEM careers. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators.
Florence 1 STEM teachers also voiced their sentiments regarding the expected arrival of the STEM bus to their campuses.
“I am excited that the STEM Bus will be visiting our school because it will allow our students to experience STEM engagingly,” said Wallace-Gregg Elementary School STEM coach and teacher Christina Davis. “I believe that the STEM Bus will influence the career paths our students decide to take by simply making them aware of different STEM-related careers. I am proud to be a part of a district that puts so much effort into ensuring that our students are prepared for the real world, no matter what path they decide to take.”
How the STEM Program Works
Each zone will provide students with opportunities to explore and solve real-world problems while providing exposure to STEM-specific careers and local industry challenges. The project will allow elementary and middle school students an opportunity to begin exploring STEM careers while giving high school students a chance to expand their curriculum in a specific STEM field. Teachers will also be able to explore how to use STEM concepts in their classes.
Rogers also noted that during the school year, demonstrations for local business and industry leaders will be provided in order to familiarize them with STEM educational opportunities offered in Florence 1 Schools from kindergarten through grade twelve.