She had the opportunity to tour the Warsaw Inquiry Learning Lab Science, Technology, Engineering and Math bus. She joined Dr. David Hoffert, Warsaw Community Schools superintendent, and Melissa Rees, Claypool Elementary principal, and fifth grade students at Claypool Elementary School, for the tour.
The bus is a mobile lab that focuses on inquiry and provides the opportunity for student-driven learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The bus has 4G Internet, and students can use iPads to report data for their experiments.
Walorski met during the education tour Monday and Tuesday with education officials, community leaders and students to honor them for their academic achievements and learn about new programs in the Second Congressional District to improve educational opportunities for Hoosier students.
“The bridge to creating jobs when there is a shortage of labor is looking at what schools are doing because our labor pool will come from these schools,” Walorski said.
She said she has visited schools who have raised their graduation rates by 10 percent and have active ROTC programs, and said she was impressed with Warsaw Community School’s STEM bus.
“This bus is expanding opportunities for kids to fall in love with science and be scientists and I am thrilled to have had a chance to stand in the bus and watch the kids critically think and make problem solving decisions,” Walorski said. “Knowing that they have IPads everything is digitized and computerized and these kids are learning to speak like and think like scientists.”
Nicki Baird, STEM instructional coach for Warsaw Community Schools, said the bus was in operation for Warsaw Community Schools since last year. The bus is used at all the elementary schools for kindergarten through sixth grade in the Warsaw Community Schools system. OrthoWorx donated funding to purchase the bus.
The students learned Tuesday how to think like a scientist and about the scientific thinking process.
“We are really proud of what we are doing with STEM education and that we are able to bring it to each of the schools,” Baird said.
Hoffert said the local economy is STEM-oriented, whether agricultural or orthopedic.
“Starting three years ago we started taking a look at our STEM education programming across all eight of our elementary schools and realized there were great things going on at Washington STEM academy with the project-based learning approach,” he said. “We started brainstorming how we could get those ideas out to our local elementary schools and we came up with the idea of the mobile STEM laboratory.”
Hoffert said the goals of the stem lab are to provide a unique experience of STEM education and the lessons are based around local industries, lakes and streams, thinking like an engineer and thinking like a scientist.
The other goals are professional development for teachers, providing teachers an opportunity to incorporate STEM education into their classroom and the commitment by the school corporation to the local economy.
“We want to make sure we are providing students with opportunities that prepare them for the local workforce,” Hoffert said.
Hoffert said the school district was happy to host Walorski during her education tour.
“We have some really amazing things happening in Warsaw Community Schools and it is great that the congresswoman is in touch with local public education,” Hoffert said.
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