Texas is expected to have the second-highest percentage of the nation’s future STEM job opportunities according to labor projections. Copperas Cove ISD offers STEM Academies at all junior high schools to ensure its students are prepared for this future workforce.
CCISD is currently in the second year of a DoDEA grant focused on improving STEM opportunities at the junior high level. The grant has provided training for teachers as well as digital and hands-on resources for students, said CCISD Director of Digital Learning & Innovation Dani Patterson.
“Over the summer, select junior high teachers were invited to participate in creating mobile STEM labs for their campuses,” Patterson said. “All the materials and lesson plans are provided in the STEM labs to remove any barriers for students to participate in a STEM experience. Selected teachers will continue to grow our mobile STEM labs throughout the year to increase the STEM opportunities on our junior high campuses.”
The CCISD Instructional Services Department collaborated with junior high administrators to highlight current STEM opportunities at the two junior high schools by creating a STEM Pathway for students. Students and parents were able to view the additional STEM course selections through a brochure offering more than two dozen STEM courses.
CCISD hosted its first STEM summer camp in July and the student response was overwhelming, said CCISD Digital Learning Coordinator Marshall Chauvin.
“We actually had a waiting list of students who signed up for summer STEM camp,” Chauvin said. “We had a great turn out and both our teachers and students enjoyed the lessons from Invention Project. By the end of camp, the teachers and students were asking about next year. This makes me excited for where CCISD is headed with STEM.”
The goal of the junior high STEM academies is to support a diverse learning community, based on common interests. The STEM academies support students in learning about possible STEM careers and prepares students for college course work, Patterson said.
The Texas Education Agency established the Texas EcosySTEM, a collaborative effort to increase access for young people to STEM-rich learning environments so that they are engaged in and have mastered the necessary skills for success in STEM careers beyond high school.
Misty Thomas leads the STEM effort at Copperas Cove High School where students were already engaged in hands-on learning in STEM through CCHS’ more than 30 areas of certification.
“Copperas Cove High School provides students the opportunities to solve real-world problems using scientific and engineering processes through hands-on activities,” Thomas said. “These hands-on activities prepare our students to be future-ready citizens by reinforcing the STEM fluency skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, innovation, and time management.”