(Gillette Wyo.) Campbell County Schools continue to get excited for science, especially STEM labs. Last night’s school board meeting was standing room only while delegations from six elementary schools presented their cases to receive a STEM lab.
After a short break, the school board announced five elementary schools will be getting STEM labs beginning in the fall. Representatives from the schools couldn’t contain their excitement as Board Chair Anne Ochs announced the names of the schools: Meadowlark, Cottonwood, Rozet, Rawhide, and Stocktrail.
Dr. Alex Ayers, incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction, thanked the board for the continued support of the STEM labs.
During his presentation, Meadowlark Principal Brandon Crosby told the board the school’s buy in was right there in the board room, in the form of the staff he brought with him.
“In addition to the staff’s excitement and enthusiasm for this possibility for an opportunity, we also sent every certified staff member to one of the four STEM labs in the district this year,” Crosby told the board.
Rozet Principal Nate Cassidy danced along to a video his school put together for their presentation and told the board a STEM lab would allow his staff to reach students in a totally different way.
Tech facilitator Susan Riesland explained her goal is for students to take what they learn and transfer it outside the classroom.
Principal Keri Shannon said they’ve always thought differently at Stocktrail. The dual-language school opened with a science lab already in place. The school also has a leadership team already in place to move the STEM lab forward.
Jennifer Farnes, a sixth grade teacher at Rawhide, explained that she’s been collecting recycled materials for her students to make things.
“I’ve noticed as we do the hands on applications, my students, who range from the first percentile to the 99 percentile, are all really using critical thinking skills,” explained Farnes. “They’re able to explain a concept so much better as they prove it, because they’re doing the trial and error.”
A team of students from Wright made the thirty mile trip to make their case for Cottonwood using a circuit connector. Each connection was an integral part of a whole team that made a bright future possible for Cottonwood’s students.
The decision to fund five new STEM labs at the elementary level next year will bring the total number of STEM labs in the district to eleven. The first labs opened at Paintbrush, Prairie Wind, Conestoga, and Wagonwheel in February. The STEM labs recently approved at Twin Spruce and Sage Valley Junior Highs should be completed by the time school starts again in August.