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Norwin OKs STEM center study

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Administrators will hire a professional firm to conduct a feasibility study/educational plan for the proposed Norwin STEM Innovation Center, a learning and conference facility focused on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

School directors this week gave administrators the go-ahead to identify STEM-related businesses and industries with interest in participating in a business-education collaboration model.

The model is aimed at expanding and advancing STEM education opportunities for mentorships, internships, cooperative learning experiences and work-study programs for high school students.

Administrators will explore other opportunities to respond to the nationwide call to improve STEM education for students and teachers.

The school board approved those steps after listening to a proposal earlier this month by Superintendent William Kerr about a center on the North Huntingdon campus.

The center is aimed at preparing students for high-technology jobs. It would offer professional development for Norwin teachers and educators across the region through a partnership with ASSET STEM, an education nonprofit with an office in Pittsburgh.

Officials have said they expect to build the center without tax dollars, relying instead on business-education partnerships.

Though the specifics of how a day in the life of a student might look are uncertain, Kerr has said the center would complement traditional school work at Norwin.

Career areas to be taught at the center may include manufacturing technology, health care, education, biomedical, bioscience and medical technology, pharmacy, dentistry, renewable and clean energy, environmental sciences, aviation and aerospace, and information technology.

Administrators' vision for the center includes freshmen and sophomores studying under the tutelage of scientists and engineers as they work through projects. Juniors and seniors could participate in internships with STEM experts, according to the district.

At Burrell School District, officials realigned elementary schools in the 2011-12 school year, turning Stewart Elementary into a school for fourth- and fifth-graders.

Officials plan to emphasize STEM learning at the upper elementary, focusing on problem-solving skills.

Kiski Area plans a new elementary school that will have a STEM focus. South Fayette also is building a new STEM school, according to Burrell Superintendent Shannon Wagner.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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