Spotlight on Fort Cherry School District & STEM Education

Posted on by Sarah D’Urzo

Fort Cherry High School’s innovative technology lab.

More and more today you hear about science, technology, engineering, and mathematic careers, or STEM careers. As careers in these fields grow, school districts are expanding their curriculum to prepare their students. Fort Cherry School District is just one of the many schools in our region paving the way in providing STEM curriculum.

Fort Cherry School District is ahead of the game by providing their students in K–12 with STEM focused curriculum. Through grant opportunities, research, partnerships, and professional development Fort Cherry has expanded their curriculum and redesigned their classrooms to create a collaborative and educational environment for their students, educators, and staff. The school district is continually updating and introducing new courses. One such course is Digital Animation, which has evolved from a traditional technology course to digital animation and 3D modeling elective. Another course is Game Design, incorporating the concepts of the evolution of games throughout history and the fundamental skills and techniques of game design, utilizing the Zulama curricula framework. As technology changes, Fort Cherry is preparing their students with exposure to programs and tools such as 3D printers, Scratch, Modkit, and JavaScript programming, and robotics that will give their students a competitive edge after graduation.

Most recently the district has been awarded their 5th consecutive Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Grant, funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Grable Foundation, for the creation of a Makeshop Area in the elementary school. Through the $20,000 grant, the district has been able to design a room that will effectively get technology into the classroom. The new Makeshop Area creatively named “The Little Rangers Makeshop” gives students an innovative learning space to create, tinker, and use technology in a variety of content areas. Along with the elementary school, the high school also has several innovative learning spaces, which include a multimedia-learning lab, recording studio, video production room, green houses featuring aquaponics and hydroponics, raised garden beds, and a newly redesigned library. “We want to create learning spaces and environments that engage our students, to make school a place where students want to be,” says Dr. Trisha Craig, Director of Curriculum.

Along with the districts extensive STEM curriculum and innovative learning spaces, the district has also partnered with schools and organizations in the region to provide further opportunities for their students such as Carnegie Mellon University, Zulama, Duke University, South Fayette School District, and Manchester Academic Charter School. Through a grant funded by the Grable Foundation, Fort Cherry partnered with South Fayette School District and Manchester Academic Charter School, to provide Scratch computer programming for students in 5th to 8th grade with assistance from the Grable Foundation. Teachers also received professional development on how to incorporate Scratch programming in their classrooms through project based learning and a means of authentic assessment. Funding through the Sprout Fund, provided an opportunity for the school district to partner with South Fayette School District in enhancing environmental science programming to grades K–4 in both school districts, utilizing high school agricultural science student leaders as teachers. Grant funding from the Grable Foundation and Female Alliance for STEM Excellence (FASE) supported after-school computer programming for grades 3–6 and robotics for grades 5–6.

As Fort Cherry continues to introduce more STEM courses for their students and expand their partnerships, they are giving their students the tools and knowledge they will need in our 21st century world. We can only wait and see where Fort Cherry School District will go next, but they are on their way to being a leader in STEM curriculum and innovative thinking in our region!

For more information on Fort Cherry School District’s STEM partnerships and programs, please contact Dr. Trisha Craig, Director of Curriculum at tcraig@fortcherry.org.

About Sarah

I’m Sarah D’Urzo, IU1 Media Coordinator, working in multimedia, STEAM, and local resource outreach for students, educators, and the community. My goal is to connect you with upcoming educational student events, grant opportunities, and professional development workshops in the IU1 region focused on innovation and design. If you are interested in starting a STEAM project of your own, future grant or professional development opportunities, that’s where I come in!

Categories

Educators, STEM/STEAM

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