Lawton Public Schools looks to improve their STEM program

Lawton Public Schools looks to improve their STEM program

LAWTON,OK (KSWO) -Lawton Public School officials held a workshop today aimed at improving their STEM program to prepare students for jobs in the science, mathematics, technology and engineering fields.

Members from the Chamber of Commerce, business owners and educators came together to share what employers are looking for in students who have the STEM experience, and what they expect from these students once they graduate.STEM has been in the Lawton Public School since 2011 when Eisenhower High School began a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative. It's now grown to the point where students at every grade level, even kindergarten, are involved.

Some of the hardest subjects taught in schools such as math, science and engineering have become a lot more hands on. Students as young as kindergarten all the way through high school and college are having an opportunity to learn and apply skills they will use in the real world. Students are now using IPad's and other technology tools to build these skills.

"It's not just teaching science all by itself, it's integrating science, math and technology, so they have real skills because when we think about engineers in the real world, they don't just engineer, they use math and science, so we're showing our students how it's used in the real world to set them up for a career," said Megan Veldhuizen, STEM Specialist.

Lance Gibbs with STEM for Lawton Public Schools says the workshop today gives them the ability to present how important STEM is to this community and its students. He says they hope to get partnerships and support from community businesses and The Great Plains Technology Center.

"What jobs do they see they're going to have. What areas of need they would have in the future, so we can then help direct students in those directions," said Gibbs.

Eisenhower High School was the first school to implement STEM. Now, grant funds have allowed this program to be put into every Lawton Public School to give everyone, not just AP students a chance to succeed and be well rounded in their subjects.

"That grew and I think that's why now we are seeing a pipeline. Instead of it just being that one fragment where it's just AP students, now we're seeing an increased enrollment at Cameron University. We're seeing increased of student taken courses at Great Plains Technology Center," said Gibbs.

Veldhuizen says the students love it and are more engaged than they are in classroom lecture settings. She says the feedback has also been encouraging and they hope to continue to improve the program from here.

"Our parents are really excited. When we first started piloting the program in the four schools, we had parents from other schools going why isn't my kid getting to do this because they're really glad they're students are engaged and they want their kids to be prepared for the future," said Veldhuizen.

Since Lawton Public Schools started the STEM program, they've seen a large increase in test scores and graduates start careers in STEM related fields within the Lawton-Fort Sill community.

The STEM workshops will serve as a foundation for community participation at the upcoming Governors STEM Summit.

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