CLAXTON, GA – NOVEMBER 23, 2021 – The Center for Education Integrating Science Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC) at Georgia Tech-Savannah campus extended its reach to rural Georgia in Evans County to help implement STEAM and STEM curriculum. Together, Claxton Middle School and CEISMC successfully applied for a Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) grant. This grant facilitated training for teachers, administrators, and instructional coaches in project-based learning (PBL) through Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Integrated To Unlock Potential (AMP-IT-UP) modules, as well as purchasing the tools and equipment needed for these projects.
“The purpose of the Rural Education Innovation STEM/STEAM Grant is to assist districts and schools with professional learning in collaboration with regional and local community partners to create and develop STEM/STEAM programs/activities that help students make connections between the content standards, their passions and curiosities, and strategic partnership experiences within the local or regional community,” said Allyson Morgan, STEM/STEAM
Program Specialist at GaDOE. “We were more than happy to provide funding for Evans County as they were extremely eager to implement the curriculum along with the guidance from Georgia Tech’s CEISMC department. We believe that the access to STEM/STEAM learning opportunities will help students in Evans County become critical thinkers and productive members of society, and we are delighted with the results of this program.”
During this training, CEISMC took the staff through an introduction to project-based learning and how to incorporate it into their courses, regardless of subject matter. The trainers demonstrated in-depth walkthroughs of select AMP-IT-UP modules, which are designed to promote workforce development and to identify and cultivate the next generation of creative STEM innovators. In addition to learning how to implement the selected modules, they provided additional examples of PBL content and how to create it for 6-8th grade. As a result of professional learning, teachers created units that immersed students in hands-on learning and exposure to STEM/STEAM curricula.
To assist teachers through the design and implementation of their PBL content, CEISMC provided additional support throughout the Sept. 2020 – Sept. 2021 school year. “Evans County really wanted to incorporate CEISMC’s AMP-IT-UP modules in our teachings to allow our students to take an existing real-world problem using standards, math, and science skills to develop a solution which better exposes them to project-based learning with the hands-on curriculum. We were so thankful to be able to get this grant and work with Georgia Tech. The level of expertise they brought was next level and unprecedented. When we originally wrote the grant, we thought we would just get the modules and integrate them, but the Program Director was there with us every step of the way. When a teacher didn’t know how to use a tool, the Program Director would demonstrate proper use and also give teachers ideas on how to incorporate it in their teachings,” said Samantha Keyfauver, Instructional Technology Coordinator and Science Instructional in Evans County. “The networking and additional resources that CEISMC provided was an unforeseen benefit as they put us in contact with a lot of experts to provide us with extra support. I would highly recommend the partnership and the collaborative relationship to other school districts. Georgia Tech has been instrumental in helping us move forward with our goal of implementing PBL.”
The activities that CEISMC planned guided teachers through an integration of academic areas in the PBL unit created. For example, 7th grade teachers received professional learning from CEISMC to create a PBL unit focused on solving problems faced by Claxton’s local agriculture community, using the transfer of genetic information through reproduction. Each teacher connected to the PBL by providing learning experiences that emphasized skills from their subject matter and the task at hand.
“Georgia Tech Savannah and CEISMC Savannah welcomes the opportunity to extend our programs into rural counties in Georgia and provide teachers with training on how to incorporate existing project-based learning content & help them create their own with community partners to implement with the students. Not only does this expose the students to real-world problems and solutions, but it allows them to see what career opportunities there are within their own community, which we believe is really powerful. Our goal is always to enhance education but allowing for enrichment of a community through learning has an even greater impact. We hope to continue this partnership with Evans County and look forward to extending our reach even further,” said Timothy Cone, CEISMC Program Director at the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus.
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