At Marion County Middle School, 6th and 7th grade students are getting an extra dose of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education this year. Students attend a STEM class every other day (alternating with Physical Education) where they design and create projects.
This week, students in Chad Hardin’s STEM class pieced together backpacks they designed from scratch. As a part of a project-based learning environment, students worked in small groups to create a blueprint for a backpack that they then manufactured using strips of fabric and stitching.
“They went through everything an engineer would,” Hardin said. “They had to brainstorm an idea, present it to class with a design matrix, and then vote as a class for a particular design.”
In addition, groups designed logos to further individualize their final projects and even wrote short press releases to accompany the product.
For MCMS assistant principal Coury Osbourne, the activity is a part of a changing academic culture.
“This project represents an important shift in the way students are educated,” Osbourne said. “It’s always exciting to see this type of hands-on learning taking place.”
When the projects are completed, Hardin plans to display the finished works in his classroom for some time before allowing students to take them home.
The entire project is an example of Marion County Public School’s effort to increase STEM education -- a part of the district’s Six Big Dreams, which includes giving all students access to technology.