Students in the MSD of Lawrence Township are getting a hands-on education in critical thinking and problem solving every day with a STEM/STEAM curriculum infused in to school life.
Below are ways that science, technology, engineering, and math are infused district-wide.
Project Lead the Way
Focusing on biomed, computer science and engineering, Project Lead the Way (PLTW) provides transformative learning experiences with hands-on activities. “We currently offer students in grades 1 through 6 at least one PLTW unit in their general education classes, says Director of Communications, Dr. Dana Altemeyer. “All teachers in grades 1 through 6 will be PLTW-certified by the end of the year.” The Indiana Department of Education has awarded the MSD of Lawrence Township over $200,000 in STEM grants to support this work.
Model makerspaces — spaces dedicated to hands-on creativity and exploration — are established in two Lawrence Township elementary schools: Skiles Test and Indian Creek. These makerspaces have four dimensions; fabrication (with 3D printers and laser cutters), virtual reality/augmented reality, a fully equipped robotics and automation space, and an “unplugged” area that serves as a multipurpose flexible learning space.
Plans are underway to create makerspaces in all 11 Lawrence Township elementary schools. Currently, elementary schools can make use of makerspace starter kits, which are comprised of materials donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
All elementary students have the opportunity to join a school-based robotics club where they participate in monthly friendly inter-school competition within the district. “We are the only district doing this,” Altemeyer says. “Students can also participate in regional and statewide competition.”
At Indian Creek Elementary —the first STEM school in the district, and among the first in the state — robotics is taken to another level.
“All students from grade 1 to 6 learn about the engineering design process while building everything from LEGO mosaics to robots,” says Bruce Nelson, Robotics & Design teacher at Indian Creek Elementary. “The Robotics & Design Lab introduces many concepts, like Computer Aided Design (CAD) that are then integrated into various projects — many done in the classrooms. Students start with simple building and design lessons, and move quickly to programming robots. Combined with our computer science class, students are ready to take on any challenge.”
Robotics learning at Indian Creek culminates in grade six with a Sumobot competition, in which students design and build competitive robot incorporating light and ultrasonic sensors.
Lawrence Township has three elementary schools, one middle school, and the McKenzie Center for Innovation & Technology that are all STEM certified through the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and three others that applied for certification this year. “Students can go Kindergarten through senior year in a STEM-certified school,” says Altemeyer. This certification indicates a commitment to providing integrated STEM opportunities to peak student interest in STEM careers. Through these STEM-enriched educational opportunities, students are getting a head start at being career- and college-ready upon graduation.
“Lawrence Township is broadly looked to as the model for preparing kids for STEM careers,” Altemeyer says. “We are proud to have graduated more college and career-ready students in 2019 than any other district in Marion County.”
For more information about MSD Lawrence Township schools, visit LTschools.org.
Brought to you by MSD Lawrence Township.