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Youngstown schools to have only new lab program in nation



Published: Wed, July 17, 2013 @ 12:07 a.m.

Discovery Learning Program offered to city school students

photo

Next year, Youngstown schools will be one of, if not the only school district in the country with the type of technology and program offered through the Discovery Learning Program. Janahy Robinson, 17, a student in the Chaney Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, works on her project, using equipment at the McDonough Museum of Art, similar to what will be at the Discovery program at Kirkmere school next year.

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

Youngstown

Next school year, the city schools will be one of, if not the only, school district in the country with the type of tech- nology and programs offered through the Discovery Learning Program.

The program for third- through eighth-graders at the former Kirkmere Elementary School will include 3-D printers, holographic screens and work stations that not only foster team and cooperative learning but also demonstrate the real-world applicability of what they learn.

“Kids have a natural inclination to want to be creative,” said Jack Scott, founder and president of Applied Systems & Technology Transfer (AST2).

The Youngstown company is providing the equipment and personnel to work with teachers and students in the lab. The district’s cost is about $88,000 with about half of it a one-time expenditure. The money is coming from federal dollars, not the school district’s general fund.

Scott said traditional education teaches children’s natural creativity out of them.

He gave an example of walking into a kindergarten classroom and asking the students how many of them consider themselves artists. Every hand would likely go up. Asking a class of fourth-graders the same question, however, would elicit far fewer raised hands, Scott said.

At the Kirkmere lab, dubbed Innovation Creation Space, students would come up with a design and use the 3-D printer to create it.

Students need to be taught that their ideas have value. It’s not all about a teacher’s lecture or what’s in a book, Scott said.

School has to a lot of competition for students’ attention and oftentimes, the competition is more fun.

Equipment in the lab allows learning to be more appealing to students.

The equipment could be used in science class to allow students to create 3-D models of a human heart. The complexity of the model would depend on the ages of the students involved.

“Youngstown is the only one to have this,” Scott said. “I don’t know of any other school in the country that has anything comparable to what’s going into Kirkmere.”

Doug Hiscox, city schools deputy superintendent for academic affairs, said the district is always looking for ways to build a stronger foundation for students going into other programs such as the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses.

“We were also looking to create something that isn’t anywhere else,” he said. “This will be the first one in the country.”

Besides providing a foundation for engineering, the lab will be used across the curriculum for all grades, Hiscox said.

“Kids will be exposed to it on a pretty regular basis,” he said.

AST2 also developed the INVENTORcloud program used by high school students across Ohio, including a lab at Choffin Career and Technical Center.

Julie Michael Smith, executive vice president of AST2, sits on the Business Advisory Council for the school district and when she and Scott learned of Superintendent Connie Hathorn’s plans to create the Discovery Program at Kirkmere, they approached him about a similar program for younger students.

Scott said the program will build students team skills and teach them to collaborate with one another.

Joe Jeswald, a retired Girard City Schools educator, has been working with the district to develop the program to fit with the district curriculum.

One module teaches about the Mahoning River, detailing its history, its importance during the steel-industry boom and more recent efforts to clean it up. In another, elements of science and social studies will be taught as students learn about the early uses of engineering.

“There’s always been engineering, even before they called it engineering,” Jeswald said.


Comments

1differencemaker(1 comment)posted 9 months ago

I was born and raised inYoungstown. I went to and graduated from public schools in Youngstown. I am a college graduate. I went to one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country. I am very involved in my community. For you to make an ignorant comment like that is disgraceful. Just because kids go to schools in the city of Youngstown doesn't make them all thugs. I know several students that will be attending the new Discovery Program and I know for a fact they will be positive people making a difference in society unlike yourself.

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2walter_sobchak(1746 comments)posted 9 months ago

"Besides providing a foundation for engineering, the lab will be used across the curriculum for all grades, Hiscox said."

If you REALLY want to provide the students with a solid foundation for engineering, they need to be taught mathematics and the basic sciences. Operating this high-tech equipment at their age is no different than play video games. To make a difference, you have to be taught the basics first so that they can understand how these items work. Unforunately, YCS is lacking in the "basics" department.

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3city_resident(498 comments)posted 9 months ago

Walter, I think this program will help to motivate those students to learn the basics.

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4bornhere(27 comments)posted 9 months ago

RK330, you must live a completely impoverished life to make such a hideous comment about an inner city still valiantly trying to matter. I'm always proud to read of Youngstown's never-give-up spirit. It's what produced Mill Creek Park, which you probably also deride. It's people like you who can kill Youngstown, not criminals who exist everywhere.

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5poland21(92 comments)posted 9 months ago

I wish these types of opportunities were extended to the "rich" schools like Poland. Instead, we just keep getting funding cuts and can barely pay for elementary specialists - let alone 3D printers. How are our kids supposed to be exposed to this advanced technology?

Maybe a better idea would be to create magnet schools for Mahoning County. Then we can all take advantage of the opportunities available to Ycity kids like Early College, the Visual and Performing Arts and the STEM schools.

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6city_resident(498 comments)posted 9 months ago

poland21, anyone can take advantage of these opportunities. Aren't they available to any student who attends Youngstown City Schools? If you choose to send your child to another district, then you are forfeiting those opportunities.

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7JoeFromHubbard(871 comments)posted 9 months ago

@ HellaBB:

You have favorably impressed me with this post.

Button pushing is a far cry from understanding the fundamentals of math and science which are required for true innovation and advancement.

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8One_Who_Stayed(236 comments)posted 9 months ago

@Walter, Hella and Joe,

While you all make valid points, you leave out the most important one (IMHO).

Without a consuming interest in the subject matter, the basics don't matter because the kid wont stick with it for long enough to make it matter.

It's like the kid who wanted to get into music because he saw a Van Halen video and was forced to take piano lessons to learn the "basics". He trys for a while, gets frustrated and quits music all together. If he had been allowed to learn the 3 chords that make up the song "You Really Got Me" and was able to play it (easy, instant gratification) his interest would only grow. When he realized that he couldn't play the solo in the middle, he would start studying. The difference being that one way hammers in the basics and the other creates a want to learn the basics.

There are pros and cons to each approach but, given today's ADD mentality in kids as well as their parents, I think the kids would do better over-all with a bit of flash-bank instant gratification. Mastering the slide-rule will come later once their appetite is whetted for scientific learning.

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9danikytn(242 comments)posted 9 months ago

As a parent of three children in the Youngstown district, I am honestly annoyed at some of the comments above. The Discovery program is a great idea, and will allow children at lower grade levels to prepare for the other outstanding programs YCSD has in place, such at YEC and REC. In order for students to be accepted into the program, they had to meet academic as well as behavioral standards, and also sign a contract full of requirements. I fully believe this program will be wonderful and a definite gem in the district. Sidenote; the statements about children not even meeting basic educational standards and such, are a sad generalization. The district has improved its overall rankings, and my childrens former school Taft has made vast improvements in test scores and attendance. Do not be so naïve to lump all students together to get your tarnished view. My children have been on honor roll every time, and also scored as Advanced/Excelled on every OAA test given, which I might add, are the same tests given in such schools as Poland and Canfield. I applaud YCSD for their efforts, and achievements. Maybe if some of you would take the time to be involved or research things a little more, you wouldn't find yourselves so very misinformed.

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10walter_sobchak(1746 comments)posted 9 months ago

I am an engineer and a product of the YCSD, so I don't need the lecture. Having kids in the 3rd to 8th grader using these toys is nothing but playing around. Once they get into high school, as the photo shows, then I would agree to using them as a carrot on the end of a string. But, in order to succeed in a college engineering curriculum, you MUST have a good foundation of math, chemistry, physics, biology, and physics or you will be weeded out of the program in short order. Therefore, the lower grades must emphasize the basics so that the proper classes can be taken in high school. Otherwise, the student will waste time taking remedial classes in college, wasting time and money. Engineering requires rigorous course work and there can be no shortcuts. And, in order to succeed in any curriculum, you need to read, write and properly use the English language.
I can only go by the state test results and rankings. I applaud Supt. Hathorn creating a STEM and arts school at Chaney. But, the problem is that we don't allow kids to be "tinkerers" where they can develop there vision by taking things apart and putting them back together. The fact that HellaBB agrees with my post, however, makes we want to get a complete work-up.

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11city_dweller(193 comments)posted 9 months ago

I have a son in the city schools, and believe me, he is learning the basics. In first grade, he has a better concept of math, due entirely to current teaching methods, than I ever had at his age. I was taught to memorize that 5+3=8, end of story, rote memorization. But he has been taught that 5+3 is the same as 3+5 (a turn-around fact), which is the same as 5+2+1, which is the same as 4+4 (double addends). He understands the relationships between numbers that I was never taught. He knows that the easiest way to get to 21 is double 10s plus 1, and that 3+3+3 is better known as 3x3. Again, this is all in first grade. It's all about understanding relationships and concepts, not just regurgitation.

So yes, the basics are still there, and the city schools are just as capable of producing top notch, competitive graduates today as they've always been. Fifteen years ago when I graduated everyone was saying how bad the schools were, and 40 years ago when my parents graduated, people were leaving the city in droves. But we're still here, and while the schools have their problems, academic rigor is not one of them.

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