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Oasis schools’ STEM program challenges students with real-world problems

Teachers at Oasis Charter Schools are looking for professionals in the STEM fields to join their advisory board.

They hope to bring real-world problems into classroom lessons and projects and pave the way for future expansion of STEM at Oasis.

“What can we do besides using plastic in our beaches?” asked Lori McLain, STEM and makerspace facilitator, as an example of a typical challenge posed to students. “So we’re just talking about design challenges in our community and we’re looking to try to solve that in a prototype or modeling fashion.”

“We see that at the elementary level, kids have a natural curiosity for STEM: They like to tinker, they like to make, they like to explore and figure out the world around them,” said John Omundsen, coordinator for K-12 STEM education at Oasis Charter Schools. “I’m at the middle school level, we start to see kids think that STEM might be too difficult.”

Omundsen and McLain help run the Gator Garage, a space where students become innovators. One of the first problems this school year: tackling pollution in our waterways by designing a recyclable soda can holder.

“It makes a big difference by helping and recycling and using less stuff so it can be thrown into landfills,” said Marisa Yapello, eighth-grader. “We have to make harmless holders and I thought I would use string, so at the end when I’m done gluing all these, I’m going to tie four of them together so that the cans can go in and stay in.”

“I had no idea it was coming, so I thought ‘STEM, science, technology, math and engineering, oh brother,'” said fellow eighth grader Greg Kostrzewa. “It’s pretty much like going to an art class.”

The program is currently only offered at Oasis Middle School, but the goal is to expand STEM classes to the elementary and high schools. Any local STEM professionals are invited to apply for the advisory board before Oct. 9.

A link to the application is below:

Click to access 8255FCA4-5056-907D-8D25-C06A146C2790.pdf

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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