Moffat County School District elementary students show off Project Lead the Way projects
The three Moffat County Elementary Schools, Ridgeview, Sandrock and Sunset, have partnered with Project Lead the Way to transform the science curriculum at the schools, and showed off the projects to district’s Board of Education.
Project Lead the Way describes itself as, “Providing Transformative Learning Experiences. Reinventing the Classroom Experience. Laying the Foundation for Success.”
Each of the elementary schools have their own Project Lead the Way Science teacher, with Ridgeview Elementary having Rhonda Counts, who has been apart of the program for three years. Counts says that since the program is in all three elementary schools, it allows for easy access to switch back and forth if a student transfers, because they are all teaching the same things at the same point in the school year. Project Lead the Way has also awarded all three schools as “Distinguished Schools.”
Project Lead the Way or PLTW as it is shortened to, encourages hands on learning for students, which is something that Counts enjoys about the program.
“A lot of these kids don’t get to because of circumstances for whatever reason, they don’t get to play in the dirt,” Counts said. “Which sounds really simple but because they haven’t gone out and played in the driveway and ran the water down or found mud puddles they haven’t experienced what soil does, so they don’t have an understanding of how our earth changes.
“So the bottom line is they love it, they really get in to their projects all of the materials that we do is really high interest which makes a big difference.”
Counts’ classroom was visited by Superintendent Scott Pankow and Board of Education President Joann Baxter this past week, where they saw the kids taking part in an experiment to try to stop erosion in a real life setting.
“What the kids had was they had a tray with a drainage tray and they had soil and they had houses and they had trees and they had different materials and it was interesting because they built dams, they built diversions for the water,” Counts said. “Some of the kids used plastic just like they would use a tarp alongside of a highway to prevent erosion some of them tried to put pins down into the soil to make the soil more stable which that wasn’t so effective but they were limited on their methods.”
Additionally, PLTW introduced Ridgeview Elementary staff to Vex Robotics, and their program designed for 5th to 8th graders, Vex IQ.
As a result of being involved in Vex IQ, Counts says that the robotics club at the school made it all the way to the world championships after winning states, but failed to compete due to the tournament being shut down because of coronavirus. Counts added that the club this year will be sponsored by Tri-State and that the problem this year that they have to try to solve is called, Rise Above, “where they have to build a robot that can lift up towers, there are parameters for the size of the robot, there is a minute to do all these things on the playing field.”
“I hope that they get problem solving capability, I hope they get a love of science and I hope that they get a really solid foundation of science knowledge that maybe leads to a career in science or a career in that’s related to science or just a general understanding in their life of science,” said Counts.
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The school subject of science is always shifting, and in the past year, certain technical advancements gave the educational world a whole new format, for better or worse.