District hosts STEM programs showcase

posted Feb 13, 2019, 12:14 PM by Granger Meador   [ updated Feb 15, 2019, 6:23 AM ]

On February 12 the district hosted a Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Showcase, offering information about its K-12 STEM program to 80 participants, including representatives from 15 school districts, local businesses and industries, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, the Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance, and the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology.

The non-profit Project Lead the Way organization asked the district to host the event based on the district's successful expansion of its PLTW STEM programs at all sites. In 2014-15, only 500 of the district's students participated in specialized STEM courses or curricula at their home school. In 2018-19, over 4,000 of the district's approximately 6,000 students are participating in such programs.

The Showcase attendees were first given an overview of the district's PLTW program. They then visited some of the PLTW classes at Bartlesville High School, interacting with the students:
  • BHS Introduction to Engineering Design with David Ayres
  • BHS Computer Science Applications with Jeremy Hanks
  • BHS Computer Science Essentials with Josh Wolfe
The group then boarded activity buses to travel across town to Madison Middle School, where they visited two PLTW Gateway to Technology classes:
  • Madison Gateway 7th Grade Flight & Space with Rachel Hough
  • Madison Gateway 7th Grade Medical Detectives with Shannon McKinney
The group was then shuttled to Woodrow Wilson Elementary School to observe students doing PLTW Launch modules:
  • Wilson Kindergarten Human Body module with Deborah Wikel
  • Wilson 1st Grade Animated Storytelling module with Kealy Western
  • Wilson 4th Grade Input/Output module with Kristina Tupper
  • Wilson 5th Grade Infection modules with Barbara Larkin and Carrie Christensen
Arvest Marketing Manager Annah Fischer attended the showcase and commented, "I was incredibly proud to see Bartlesville leading the way on many of these initiatives - thanks to purposeful, strategic planning...my favorite part was watching the students interact with one another, their teachers, and the curriculum."

Dr. David Dimmett, the Senior Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer for PLTW, tweeted, "Great leadership+community support+teacher commitment=opportunities for kids! @BPSDBruins is a model for community engagement and the relevant, applied learning that prepares students for their futures! #PLTW"

BPSD STEM before the expansion of PLTW

Before 2015-16, Central and Madison middle schools had long offered PLTW Gateway to Technology classes to about 500 students annually. All secondary students have been offered a solid set of core courses in science and mathematics for many years, including a variety of Advanced Placement courses, and juniors and seniors could take PLTW Pre-Engineering classes at Tri County Tech. But before 2015-16 Bartlesville High School (BHS) had not offered high school computer science classes for several years, and there were no specialized STEM offerings for elementary school students.

Phillips 66 funded STEM labs at each secondary school

A Phillips 66 Signature Community Initiative Grant allowed the district to renovate spaces at each secondary school for more specialized STEM classes and support teachers in implementing new courses and modules. The PLTW Gateway programs at each middle school doubled in size and scope and both schools were named PLTW Distinguished Schools in 2017-18.

High school built up dedicated STEM courses

The district also steadily built up a Computer Science program at the high school which now offers four different PLTW courses taught by two teachers, and a partnership with Tri County Tech now allows freshmen and sophomores to take initial pre-engineering courses taught by a BHS teacher in the Phillips 66 Innovation Labs at the high school with interested students going on to more advanced courses at the technical school. The enrollment in the high school's various specialized STEM classes, including some not associated with PLTW, has increased from 99 in 2015-16 to 233 this academic year. 

BPSF spearheads funding elementary STEM program

Building upon the success of the STEM programs in the secondary schools, the district asked the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation (BPSF) to spearhead fundraising efforts to offer PLTW STEM modules in all classes from kindergarten through fifth grade. The BPSF donated or raised $200,000 to fund the first two of four PLTW STEM Launch modules in each K-5 classroom. Community partners including ConocoPhillips, ABB, Arvest, and Truity have contributed to the effort. The Foundation is currently raising a final $100,000 to fund another two elementary STEM modules.