By Stacy Kess
Big Walnut Intermediate School’s science team has worked hard to create a program that will engage and inspire students.
The hard work paid off: the school was among 57 Ohio schools to be awarded The Governor’s Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in STEM Education and Student Research.
STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – is now the focus of the present and future of education. The award, presented by The Oho Academy of Science, highlights teachers’ efforts to create a positive science learning environment. This is the second consecutive year Big Walnut Intermediate has won the award.
Five teachers were named in the Big Walnut award: fifth-grade science teachers Rina Hoge, Casey Wright and Michael Stone and sixth-grade science teachers Jason Crawford and Mike Wion.
“We are honored,” Hoge said. “It’s all because we come together as a fifth- and sixth-grade team. We couldn’t do it without (the teamwork). When we put our heads together, we came up with a pretty good plan on how to help the kids succeed.”
Hoge said the gem of the program is the annual science fair and that the projects draw students into the world of science.
“They love the fact that they can say, ‘Look what we did,’” she said. “You see the pride in the kids and you see the pride in the family. This is their chance to show off.”
She said that interest in science translates to the everyday classroom experience and beyond. Big Walnut Intermediate students work with the high school science club, which has seen a steady increase in participation from the fifth- and sixth-grade students.
“Students have made connections with professors because of their projects,” Wion said.
Technology has also been a major factor in moving the science program forward, Hoge said.
“I think we’re more aware (of science experiments) than just building volcanoes,” she said. “Because of technology, there’s more opportunity to see science in action.”
She said the team often uses videos from the Web of MythBusters or Bill Nye The Science Guy.
“And (the students) just love it,” Hoge said. “They have so many more opportunities available to experiment with technology.”
Principal Ryan McLane said the program is about the students – and so is the award. The science team is focused on the students.
“Our biggest thing here is we want the kids to be here,” he said.
“We’ve got great kids here and our staff will bend over backwards for our kids,” she said. “This is just a result of that.”
She said the team will continue to advance the science program to keep students interested, as well as spark new love for science.
“You crack the door open for them, but they have to go through it,” Hoge said. “They do it all.”
Reporter Stacy Kess can be reached at 614-373-4166 or on Twitter @StacyMKess.