CACHE, OK (RNN Texoma) - Cache Public Schools received a $750,000 grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity. The grant for STEM education was awarded based on the number of military-connected families that CPS serves in the community. Part of the grant money is providing a collaboration between Cache Public Schools and the Medicine Park Aquarium. Tuesday, Cache Pre-K students were able to visit the aquarium and participate in STEM learning stations.
Cache students, Pre-K through eighth grade, will study lessons at school that they can implement when they visit the Medicine Park Aquarium. On their first visit, Cache Pre-K students learned about fish, reptiles, and other species, and also participated in a variety of STEM-based activities designed by the aquarium staff.
“One of our goals, as the aquarium, is we want to give the students an experience that they can only get here at the Medicine Park Aquarium and that can’t necessarily be replicated in a classroom,” said Colleen Edwards, education director at Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center.
The CPS district STEM coordinator said the rest of the grant money will be used for other forms of STEM education over the next five years.
“We just want them to be ready for that next step, and so we’re doing computer coding, we’re throwing robots into our after-school programs, we just ordered a new set of two different kinds of robots that we’ll be able to take to our younger grades as well," said Amber DeWinter, Cache High School educator and district STEM coordinator.
DeWinter said they will take STEM lessons, perfect them in the high school classroom, and then the high school students will teach them to younger grade levels.
“If you want to talk about reach and impact, I can reach so many more kids with STEM ideas by using my own high school students, who are super excited about it, to reach thirty or sixty kids at a time in classrooms in the intermediate school, or primary, or fifth and sixth grade,” said DeWinter.
Through the five-year collaboration with the Medicine Park Aquarium, every single Cache student, Pre-K through eighth grade, which is approximately 1,500 students, will visit the aquarium at least once, and grades fifth through eighth will get to come twice a year. The next visit will be Wednesday, October 31st, and it will be the Cache kindergartners who get to participate.