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The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

July 12, 2018 Grants help fund STEM initiatives at Highland
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

The Highland Community School District has received three significant grants in recent weeks. These grants are all related to the implementation of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – programming in the district.

Highland’s reputation as a leader in STEM programming in the state of Iowa with our work in robotics, agriculture, Lego League and the upcoming aerospace engineering are important factors in receiving these grants.

In this article, I will summarize the grants we received and how they will be implemented and used.

We would like to thank the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for its continued support of the Highland district. Two of the grants I will be discussing are being given by the foundation.

The foundation is a tremendous asset to the county, and we are thankful for all of the support they continue to give the schools in the area, including Highland.

The district received a grant toward the purchase and construction of a greenhouse for the district to use as a part of the agriculture education program. The estimated cost of the greenhouse is approximately $70,000.

The greenhouse will be used in a variety of ways for the district. The most obvious use will be to expand instruction to horticulture and botany curriculums.

The district has expanded the agriculture education program to two instructors and will be expanding the number of courses offered in the program. The greenhouse will also be used to assist in possible fundraising opportunities for the FFA club.

There has been some discussion about the possibility to implement an aquaculture curriculum and raise fish in the greenhouse. We hope that we will be able to optimize instruction in our secondary science curriculum with opportunities for hands-on biology labs.

The Washington County Riverboat Foundation also funded an opportunity to create a maker-space lab in the K-5 Highland Elementary School.

What is a maker-space lab?

It is a series of hands-on experimentation activities. It is a place for tinkering and use of everyday technologies as simple as fabrics, tools, physical computing and augmented reality. It is considered a STEM lab.

It is not solely a science lab, wood shop, computer lab or art room, but it contains elements found in all of these familiar spaces. It is designed to accommodate a wide range of activities, tools and materials.

Examples of lab stations may include construction, woodworking, electronics, robotics, digital fabrication, building bicycles and kinetic machines, textiles and sewing.

While Highland Elementary is still installing and implementing different modules, it will be an excellent chance for our elementary students to experiment and explore.

We were especially excited to hear the news the last week of June that a grant was awarded to be one of only three school districts in the state of Iowa to be selected as a part of the University of Iowa College of Engineering Femineer program.

Highland will be implementing the “creative robotics” curriculum. Students will learn about basic electronics, wiring, sensors and motors, as well as operation of the Hummingbird micro-controller-uniting Scratch programming language.

The Femineer program was created and funded by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering in 2013 to inspire females to pursue STEM in their education and career.

The implementation for Highland will begin on the middle school level, but will ultimately become a 7-12 program. The curriculum will provide students with project-based learning, female engineering student mentors and the opportunity to work directly with the University of Iowa College of Engineering.

By engaging with real-world applications, Femineer students acquires the technical knowledge and practical skills necessary to become confident and strong in their future careers.

Highland continues to be a leader in STEM programming in the state of Iowa. We will be the first high school in the state to implement Aerospace Engineering Advance Career curriculum in cooperation with Auburn University.

Another partnership will now be established with the University of Iowa as well as the agriculture education programming articulated with Iowa State. We have one of the most established high school robotics teams in the state as well. We are excited for the future opportunities that these programs will bring our students.

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