BELLWOOD - A program designed to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be piloted in the Bellwood-Antis School District during the 2012-13 school year.
The program called "STEM Connections for Kids" was created by a group of educators and business people whose purpose is to promote, develop and facilitate instruction, programs and services related to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the Blair County area.
"Teachers face enormous challenges to support students to begin a career or a college degree program, particularly in the STEM fields," said Sherry Buck, retired principal and board member for STEM Connections for Kids in a statement. "Our program will meet the needs of the teachers and provide the road map for school districts to adopt a successful STEM approach for our region's students."
Bellwood-Antis stepped up to serve as the pilot, said board member Bruce Muller, senior instructor in engineering at Penn State Altoona.
"[Superintendent] Dr. Brian Toth expressed a strong interest in being involved, on a planning and board level, with STEM Connections for Kids' and offered to work together to get this project started," Muller said. "It was a natural fit."
Toth is excited about bringing the program to Bellwood-Antis.
"The STEM program will be an expansion of our science, technology and math curriculum. As a district, we were interested in providing a more in-depth and hands-on science experience for students at the elementary levels, grades 4 to 6," Toth said.
During the pilot program, each grade level will participate in three lessons/units. This will allow 30 classes and a total of 670 students hands-on opportunities to explore the world of STEM and pique their interest in further activities and studies, Toth said.
"The educators and engineering, math and science experts will actually come in to classrooms to present the STEM curricular activities during regular school hours or after school. Teachers can then see, first hand, how the activities are implemented and can then do the same on their own for future classes," Toth said.
Toth expects the program to have a positive impact on the students.
He said the practical hands-on approaches to problem solving will help make students more proficient in the 21st-century skills of communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.