Meeting illustrates STEM options

Published 10:01 am Friday, February 3, 2017

SOUTH POINT — On a busy Thursday night at South Point High School, which also hosted the county science fair and a girls basketball game, an informational meeting took place to advise students and parents of educational opportunities.

Representatives from Project Lead the Way and the STEM program, a partnership between Collins Career Technical Center and South Point schools, were on hand to provide information on courses offered and career options.

Matt Monteville, director of satellite operations for Collins, said the meeting is one of several the program is doing with schools in Lawrence County, timed before the start of class registration for the next school year.

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He said in addition to science, technology, engineering and math, the courses provide critical thinking skills to students and teach them how to apply what they’ve learned.

“No matter what they want to do — accounting, pharmacy — they will learn how to problem solve and work as a team,” he said.

The courses begin in the seventh and eight grades in most Lawrence schools. When students reach the eleventh grade, they can choose a specialization.

Gary Salyer, the transition coordinator for PLTW, told the group of success stories of these who have taken the courses, including a Lawrence County student who had a hand in the design of a device, which adheres to the body and delivers medication every six hours.

“How would you like to be able to say, as a parent, ‘Get on the Internet and look it up. My daughter was a part of this?” Salyer said.

He said there is no shortage of good jobs available to students, provided that they are well-educated and dependable.

“If someone says there isn’t, I tell the kids to look that person right in the eye and say ‘You are lying,’” Salyer said.

Another example he offered was the recent Nobel prize, given to a team of engineers in the field of nanotechnology who developed an electric motor half the width of a human hair.

“I could go on and on with stories like this, but time stops me,” Salyer said.

South Point High School principal Ben Coleman spoke of the opportunities available in the district’s STEM courses.

“You’re going to hear a lot about STEM from other places, but they offer nothing you can’t get here at South Point High,” he said.

Hillary Dudomain, who teaches bioscience at South Point and Dawson-Bryant schools, as part of the program, said the courses help to prepare students for education beyond high school by offering college credit.

“For students focused on the medical field, they will leave with clinical skills,” she said.

Kendall Bryant, a South Point junior who received a superior rating at the state science fair, said she started by taking engineering classes in eighth grade and has moved on to biomed courses.

“This program is amazing,” she said. “I have learned so much more than what I would in the typical biology class. I would suggest it to anyone.”

Tyler Poe, a senior at the school taking engineering courses, also spoke highly of education with the program.

“It teaches to think out of the box and use critical thinking in ways that have helped me,” he said.

He said early courses involved projects such as learning about truss construction, building balsa wood bridges and testing them for weight. A later option, the civil engineering and architecture course, has the students design a model home.

“We learn about different types of houses, types of climates and what kinds of houses you see in them,” he said. “We build a home from the ground up.”

Another course, digital electronics, educates students on the inner workings of computers and other devices.

“We learn to solder a printed circuit board,” Poe said.

He said he has benefited greatly from the advanced course, which have a low student-to-teacher ratio, and have provided hands-on experience. He recommended the program highly.

“I would say it’s good for any freshman or sophomore who wants to go on to college, just for the basis of the knowledge they get,” he said.

Monteville said more meetings are planned for other school districts in Lawrence County, to be announced soon.