The school district in Montoursville, PA has been working to build and form a STEM program for a few years now, according to NorthCentralPA.com. A $500,000 grant catapulted the work to completion.
Elementary STEM/CS (computer science) teacher and STEM Coordinator, Mrs. Stephanie Beadle, and middle school STEM/CS teacher, Mrs. Megan Altebrando worked together to develop a STEM department, receive funding, and build enthusiasm for the program in the district and community since 2018.
In 2022, Beadle and Altebrando had a major breakthrough, receiving a $500,000 PAsmart advancing Grant from the PA Department of Education, helping to provide the tools needed to put “Warrior Innovation Labs” in the Loyalsock Valley and Lyter Elementary Schools.
To build the labs, Montoursville worked closely with InventionLand Education, who helped to design the space and create a curriculum for the school centered around STEM and computer science.
The design process brought some unique features, as well, including custom cabinets portraying bright and vivid comic strips featuring “The Inventsons,” (a comic series about a family of inventors InventionLand uses to help teach the STEM curriculum) over functional cabinets along the perimeter of the labs.
The new innovation labs also feature fun add-ons like seats that tilt and spin, as well as colorful light panels, all of which are intended to help engage students in the classroom and give them more freedom of movement.
Beadle and Altebrando are very happy with the impact the new addition to the STEM program has had. The new approach to learning made available through the labs has been beneficial to many students in the schools, providing them with a different, fun, hands-on approach to learning, where many are able to do better than in a traditional classroom setting.
The teachers have also commented on their students’ apparent eagerness and excitement to learn and be in class.
“The students have been very excited when entering the labs. I have heard many times, ‘I love this room!’ One student said, ‘It feels like a classroom out of a story!’” said Beadle.
The STEM program and lab experiences help teach kids about other important life skills, like how to work together, share, and compromise.
Currently, some of the projects the various elementary students are working on include learning how to be a scientist for the kindergarteners, and the other grades are learning about and working on circuits, coding robots, and engineering with cardboard, which is about being innovative and creative and coming up with other things to make out of a box.