Daily Reporter staff reports

FORTVILLE — With its emphasis on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math), the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation has added three dedicated STEM teaching positions. Kathy Tingwald and Amy Lovell, both elementary school teachers, completed STEM certification training, and will now rotate through grades three through five at all three Mt. Vernon elementary schools. The teachers will meet with students once a week teaching curriculum in computer science, engineering and biomedical studies from Project Lead the Way.

A third teacher, Brenda Shoenlein, was hired to teach eighth-grade robotics. At the start of the school year, her class focused on engineering projects beginning with the design of a catapult. Students learned how to make objects go farther by analyzing variables such as weight, drag, tension changes and aerodynamics. The class has moved into more challenging projects, including building robots and the science behind fidget spinners.

Additional STEM initiatives include the development of Makerspace at Mt. Vernon High School and the creation of robotics clubs in each elementary school thanks to a grant from the TechPoint Foundation for Youth. The students from each school will compete against each other in a structured competition in February.

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Mt. Vernon’s Makerspace focuses on student-centered inquiry and the solving of real-world problems. For example, an English or social studies class might request a visual project to accompany a written assignment. The Makerspace is stocked with art supplies (pipe cleaners, tongue depressors, markers, string, glue, hammers, nails and more), a 3-D printer, a sewing machine and woodworking tools to provide the space for students to create.

Collectively, this district-wide enhancement of STEM initiatives will inspire a love of learning and help develop skills the workforce is craving. MVCSC seeks to provide engaging project based learning opportunities that inspire students to pursue and achieve success in their field of choice.