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Meridian Technology Center and Guthrie Schools partner for STEM education

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STILLWATER, Oklahoma – Meridian Technology Center and Guthrie Public Schools have branched out with their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education training.

Guthrie High School student Marchae Owens.

Guthrie High School student Marchae Owens.

Using the Project Lead the Way: Gateway curriculum, an initiative that specializes in bringing STEM education into the classroom, Meridian and Guthrie public schools have been working together to offer introductory engineering classes to students in the 7th and 8th grades. The two schools collaborated on a grant to obtain initial approval for the program through the Oklahoma Department of CareerTech. Meridian provides financial assistance to the program and the school’s Pre-Engineering Academy instructors are available resources to the Guthrie program.

With course content that includes automation and robotics; design and modeling; energy and the environment; science of technology, space and flight; and the magic of electrons, students taking part in the Gateway program are able to sample a variety of STEM career pathways.

Technical Education teachers Van Barker and Joe Sieber are leading the initiative in Guthrie. The duo are dedicated to introducing STEM concepts to students, hopefully sparking an interest that will lead students to pursue further education and a career in a STEM field.

“Our goal is to get students thinking about STEM,” Barker said. “A lot of times, students have preconceived ideas about anything that has to do with science or math. We’ve found that once a student takes one of the Gateway elective classes, they will generally enroll in another course. Each year the momentum is growing, and we’re seeing more and more students sign up.”

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in STEM-related occupations is expected to grow by more than 9 million over the next decade.
With classes that include a blend of theory, practical application and hands-on activities such as building cars that run on solar power and constructing windmills, Barker said students often make a connection between what they are learning in the Gateway courses and concepts they have learned in their core academic classes.

“I frequently hear students say, ‘We learned that in science’ or ‘I remember learning about that in math.’ As a teacher, that’s what you strive for – students to make those types of connections. ”

This year nearly 80 seventh-graders and 70 eighth-graders enrolled in the Guthrie Gateway classes. Pre-Engineering Academy instructors at Meridian hope the increased STEM emphasis at the junior high levels will inspire students to take the next step and enroll in their program at Meridian when they are sophomores, juniors or seniors. As a Project Lead the Way site, the program at Tech is designed to prepare students for postsecondary studies in engineering and engineering technology.

“This is a great example of a technology center and a partner school district working together to help students make informed career decisions,” said Meridian Pre-engineering Academy Instructor David Barth. “Together we are introducing students to STEM at an early age, developing their curiosity and encouraging them to pursue a career in this field. The jobs are there, and we’re trying to train students to fill them.”

For more information on the Pre-Engineering Academy at Meridian visit meridiantech.edu/pre-engineering.

Meridian Technology Center is a career and technology training center located in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The center has more than 70 career majors and offers a wide variety of evening personal and professional development courses and certifications for many diverse career fields. Meridian also offers services to businesses in need of training and development. Each year approximately 11,000 students come to Meridian from all areas of business and industry.

For more information or to enroll visit www.meridiantech.edu or contact a career counselor by phone at (405) 377-3333 or toll-free at (888) 607-2509.

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