Trumbull County teachers are excited about a new program that helps students develop 21st-century skills by using technology.
The Defined STEM is a Web-based program that teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills using problem-based learning techniques and multimedia resources.
The cost of the program and training of teachers was covered by a $50,000 donation by BP to the Trumbull County Educational Service Center.
The goal is to help students develop skills at an early age in science and technology, said Curtis Thomas, BP’s director of government and public affairs in Ohio, who presented TCESC with the $50,000 check Wednesday. The company seeks to hire employees who have education backgrounds in science and technology.
“Education cuts are happening,” he said. “We try to help any way we can for students to get ahead or stay where they are in STEM education.”
Defined STEM brings 21st- century skills into the classroom, said Marla Dull, a seventh-grade science teacher at W.S. Guy Middle School in Liberty.
One of the issues students have today is critical thinking. This program requires problem solving, she said.
“When I give my students assignments, like asking them to draw a poster, they want to know exactly how I want it drawn,” Dull said. “I have to tell them they should design it.”
The program helps students to understand the type of work they might have to do professionally, said Melissa Leslie, a sixth-grade science teacher at W.S. Guy.
“It shows different career options. In one video, a woman talked about her job running a wind turbine,” Dull said. “It showed her working with a team.”
These students need to understand that in most professions they will be required to work as a team, she said.
Defined STEM can also be accessed by the students at home or in class and helps them with different types of projects, Leslie said.
The program is a tool that will help students learn through technology, said Cheri Chilson, a fifth-grade teacher at Bloomfield- Mespo Elementary School. Children have become innate users of technology.
“I can go up in front of the class and teach them how to do certain skills, or I can make a video and show myself doing the skill,” she said. “These students respond to technology.”
The Defined STEM program is expected to benefit more than 20,000 county students. Two groups of teachers came to TCESC to learn about the program Wednesday.