STEM lessons take root in Connellsville schools
The 1,400 students of Connellsville Area High School recently experienced a series of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) camps unlike any they have experienced before.
In the camps, a collaboration between Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus and Intermediate Unit 1, Connellsville students did not travel to the Penn State Fayette Campus; instead, the professors of Penn State came to the students.
Dr. Tammy Stern, director of curriculum and federal programs for the Connellsville Area School District, was inspired to put together this program by the feedback that she received from previous STEM camps.
“The IU1 STEM Center held Camp Tech at our junior high school last summer for students in grades 3-8,” she said. “I received tremendous feedback from students and parents. I wanted to replicate that same model for our students in grades 9-12.”
Stern authored a proposal for the Falcon Foundation and submitted it to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for consideration.
“In order for the Falcon Foundation to be eligible to receive the EITC funding that is supporting our Senior High Camp Tech (and other STEM activities), I had to include activities that were STEM-related and extracurricular,” she said. “We also needed to propose activities that would include all of our students K-12. We have already completed the other STEM activities at the elementary and junior high levels.”
She said that having the Penn State professors come to the school resolved a lot of logistical issues.
“The benefits of having the activities at the building, as opposed to sending students out, are that we avoided transportation costs and issues. We did not need chaperones, because the children were with their classroom teachers during the activities. We partnered with All About Learning to provide STEM-based Lego activities at each grade level. We also partnered with the Carnegie Science Center. They have ‘Science on the Road' Programs, whereby they send their staff members to our buildings to work with the children on various STEM-related activities. I received wonderful feedback on those programs.”
Stern hopes that students see the value of STEM training.
“Our goal in providing STEM-related activities to all of our students is for the student to understand how science, technology, engineering and mathematics are interrelated,” she said “Hopefully, they will also see the relevance in the activities and become exposed to various STEM-related careers and potential opportunities. Some of the careers that I have heard that our students pursue in this area include the Marcellus shale drilling, mining, and other forms of engineering.”
Joe Segilia, director of continuing education at Penn State Fayette, is proud to be a part of such an innovative program.
“This STEM Camp is the first of its kind in this region, and quite possibly the Commonwealth,” Segilia said.
He said that STEM training helps students prepare for a rapidly changing world.
“It promotes career awareness of STEM-related fields,” he said. “Students are exposed to these areas of knowledge. They have the chance to connect with professionals who work in these fields.
Segilia believes that STEM training has many practical applications.
“Scientists are the inventors, the innovators,” he said. “Engineers build and maintain our infrastructure. Technology experts build and design our computers. Math is the basis for all of these things.”
Dr. Joe Shostell, professor of biology at Penn State Fayette, believes that STEM training equips people to solve the problems that plague humanity.
“These people are the ones who will find ways to provide for a growing population without impacting the environment,” Shostell said. “They will devise better farming techniques. They will find ways to reduce our waste and recycle more.
“These young minds are our future,” he said. “Our job as a nation is to encourage children to enter the STEM fields. Without those new minds, our society will become stagnant.”
Dr. Bo Schatschneider, professor of chemistry at Penn State Fayette, wants to give students the head start that he didn't have.
“No one gave me a heads-up on job opportunities,” Schatschneider said. “I want to let our youth know what's available. Some people will choose chemical engineering. Others will choose computational chemistry. Some people will want to teach chemistry to others.”
Sixteen faculty members from Penn State participated in this program.
Barbara Starn is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Bank at the Train Station’ to hold grand opening Saturday
- Connellsville native Stafford remembered for her generosity
- Dunbar Township woman, toddler critical after crash
- $1.2M flowing to Connellsville through partnership program
- 58-acre site for proposed Fayette County jail back on market
- Jobs are focus in 52nd District House race in Westmoreland, Fayette
- ‘Halloween Nights’ planned at Connellsville tech center
- Bedford woman’s works on display at Fayette law library
- New consignment store specializes in dance, formal wear
- Connellsville honors the late Ralph Wombacker
- Connellsville to honor local legend Harold Betters