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Program offers science help

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
Future Rowan-Salisbury School System graduates will have ěmore choices in lifeî thanks to STEM ó Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Lisa Wear, director of Horizons Unlimited, said Monday.
But for now, Wear said the pipeline of graduates of STEM graduates is leaky.
ěIt is leaky for many reason,î she said. ěGraduates are not prepared for college or not prepared for the work force.
ěWe would like to work together to stop those leaks and make sure that we have the types of students that are prepared for jobs in the future.î
Wear said the school system is facing a ěcritical talent gapî in the area of STEM, but a team has been created to brainstorm about strengths and weakness and share ideas.
The design team consists of educators from the Rowan-Salisbury School System, Cabarrus County Schools, Kannapolis City Schools as well as a variety of other key players.
ěThe North Carolina STEM Community Collaborative is made up of a group of dynamic leaders that have come together from business, education, economic development and government to ensure that all students are career and college ready,î Wear said.
Bryce Beard, a member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said he thinks the STEM initiatives being undertaken by the school system are ěvery relevant.î
ěThe game of life is really about competition in school,î he said.
Though the school district is looking for ways to add more STEM programs in classrooms, some have already taken off, Wear said.
The 21st century classroom program provides a digital learning environment to promote knowledge and skills students will need to compete in future the future workplace.
Horizons provides STEM education for students in first through eighth grades, building accelerated performance for college readiness.
Wear said data shows that students are only receiving an average of two hours of science education each week.
ěWe would like to integrate science into language arts and into mathematics,î she said. ěSTEM education is really the integration of curriculum.î
All eighth-graders can receive intensive training through Biotechnology Career Academies hosted at Horizons.
ěWe want to ingrain a sense a sense of future in our students that these types of opportunities are critical at the middle school level to catch them early before they begin making decisions about high school coursework,î Wear said.
Wear said the Mathematics and Science Partnership grant program will also provide professional development for kindergarten through eighth-grade teachers, with the focus on physical science content. The nearly $950,000 grant will be distributed over a three-year period.
The first round of professional development will begin in June with the Summer STEM Institute.
Wear said the institute will be open to 54 teachers who will be selected through an application process.
ěOur partners are Catawba College and the North Carolina Research Campus,î she said. ěWe are very excited about the opportunity to have our teachers work and build partnerships between these organizations.î
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

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