Community Partnership: OrthoWorx Helps to Move STEM Forward

In August 2013, Warsaw Community Schools (WCS) received a $300,000 grant from OrthoWorx to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education beginning in 2014. WCS also committed $182,000 to its Moving STEM Forward plan.

OrthoWorx funds are being used to enhance STEM education in the area by offering all grades access to greater STEM learning opportunities, gaining teachers access to professional development and creating a special Mobile Learning Laboratory bus.

OrthoWorx Executive Director Brad Bishop said great STEM education is important to the Warsaw area as well as the orthopedic industry. "We need to ensure a pipeline of talent, of individuals prepared to go into the orthopedic industry," Bishop said. "And we need to have a high performing school system with attractive curricular offerings to help employers attract and retain top talent from around the world."

A K-12 roadmap will ensure the STEM curriculum is created around local needs. Leaders in the STEM educational field have developed an intensive five-day workshop to support communities in the implementation of a STEM roadmap. During the 2013-14 school year, STEM educators will research and develop collaborative needs in preparation for the training in July, 2014.

THE FUNDS WILL BE USED TO ACHIEVE THE FOLLOWING FOUR GOALS: ONE: To create a K-12 collaborative system roadmap for STEM education, TWO: To further strengthen community partnerships with the addition of a Community STEM Advisor, THREE: To inspire and equip WCS educators’ knowledge and skills in STEM curriculum, and FOUR: To create an inquiry STEM laboratory on wheels, literally taking STEM to each WCS elementary student.SUPERINTENDENT DAVID HOFFERT

According to WCS Assistant Superintendent David Hoffert, an ongoing link between community schools and the orthopedic industry will be crucial to Moving STEM Forward. A liaison will serve as an orthopedic industry expert, a link for further community partnership creations and a visionary for moving STEM forward in the school corporation.

Although still being developed, the Mobile Learning Lab will be a state-of-the-art lab to facilitate student and teacher learning. Education in the laboratory will be a collaborative effort between the instructional coaches, STEM mentor teachers, the classroom educator and local community experts, creating a unique learning environment for WCS students.

Production is starting on the lab and school officials hope it will be finished at the end of the 2013-14 school year, with full implementation beginning in fall of 2014. According to Hoffert, many colleges and universities have used mobile laboratories, but to his knowledge, WCS will be one of the first to implement this in a K-12 setting.

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