USD 247 SOUTHEAST- PITSCO EDUCATION PARTNERSHIP CREATED
The USD 247 Southeast School Board officially enacted an Educational Partnership with PITSCO of Pittsburg, Kansas. PITSCO is a premier leader in age appropriate learning systems. The USD 247 BOE launched new curricula affecting all grades at its last meeting. The curricula consists of new computer assisted 6th and 7-8th math curriculum and a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math curriculum to be taught in sciences classes known as STEM. The educational partnership with PITSCO will benefit both partners. PITSCO will use the Southeast school district as a local demonstration site for state, national and international clients. USD 247 staff receive the
Computer math programs called Signature math for grade 6, Algebra Academy for grades 7-8 and the K-12 STEM aligned curriculum with its vast hand-on projects, staff development, labs, instructional equipment, instructional materials, robotics materials, rocketry materials, and LEGO education materials. All of the programs begin this fall.
Kansas has been promoting STEM for over a decade. Programs to date have consisted of small groups, clubs, single class or schools or are used for enrichment. Kansas City area students receive STEM support through the KC STEM alliance The Leavenworth school district received a grant 2.5 million dollar grant from the Department of Defense Educational Activity last year because it serves military dependents. Its program operates K-9. USD 247 Southeast school district is using its own funds to make STEM available to its students K-12, a Kansas first. “We are accomplishing this with a far smaller budget than available by the DODea grant. While we hope that some grant opportunities will come and expand our curriculum, especially into cross content areas outside of math and science; we felt with the Common Core Standards coming and the intense competition that exists for scholarships and jobs we had to do this for our students. PITSCO partnering with us made it possible.” Superintendent Glenn Fortmayer said.
STEM skills relate to the fastest growing job fields in the nation according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. USD 247 intends to combine PITSCO’s expertise and resources to offer its students a dynamic learning experience that will better prepare students and enhance their opportunity for a higher quality of life after graduation. “STEM skills are what employers in all fields are looking for today and in the future. We will prepare students to compete and win scholarships and jobs.” Fortmayer stated.
Businesses, the federal government, trade schools, and colleges want students to have better skills in the STEM areas. STEM teaches the four areas in a natural real world integrated approach versus being divided into independent subject areas. Real life problem solving with highly frequent and intensely engaging activities capture student attention and commitment. It is rigorous through meaningful work and linked to the way we use information and skills in real life. It requires problem solving and use of several skills from different knowledge areas at once. All of the STEM skills are addressed and also integrate language arts, social studies, and communications to complete the work. STEM is not just including math, science, and technology in an assignment. STEM requires students to be problem solvers, innovators, and inventors. Students must also be able to be self-reliant, logical, technology literate, and able to collaborate and communicate. STEM skills will enhance performance STEM fields, but also in non-technical fields, even in fields such as the arts.
The PITSCO curriculum will provide age appropriate learning systems that are aligned to STEM and the Common Core Standards. LEGO Education tools merge with elementary Missions (Hands-on Science projects that teach STEM skills and cross content area skills.). Robotics are introduced in these low grade levels. The Missions merge with upper elementary and junior high school Modules. Modules are like missions at higher complexity levels. Robotics become more emphasized in these grades. The modules then lead to Suites. Suites is a patented process for teaching core content and teamwork as well as providing relevancy at the high school level. Suite is based around progressively more difficult challenges, during which students must learn and then apply topic-specific core content towards the solutions. Successful completion of the challenges requires a mastery of both core content concepts and real-world skills.
In addition to the hand-on STEM lessons in science classes K-12, USD 247 will be deploying PITSCO’s Signature Math for each of its 6th grades and its Algebra Academy for grades 7-8. Both systems use self-paced computer presented lessons utilizing real life story lines. Teachers monitor student work and respond and instruct on errors they find or that the computer detects. Students then perform individual, partner, and team collaboration science projects that teach the math concepts through hands on real life activities. The software can take students from 5th-10th grade skill levels.
“These math programs, as well as the hands-on science programs, are achieving awards and getting students to reach the highest levels of achievement. We want our students to receive a world class education through this partnerships programs..” Fortmayer stated. “PITSCO is a world leader in education systems, through this partnership, we hope for our Lancers to lead the way with a world class education! Our students will get an entire second dose of math through science experiments and robotics; that is a great way to learn math!” Fortmayer added.