MPS named fifth STEM Community School District in OK
Governor Mary Fallin named Mustang Public Schools the fifth district in Oklahoma to earn the designation of STEM Community School District. District representatives went to the Capitol on Wednesday, May 4 to accept the award.
The possibility for a STEM Community School District was created with Senate Bill 1181, which was signed into law in 2014. The law enables communities to collaborate with government, local businesses, local community colleges and universities, career techs and more to demonstrate that their district is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focused. The initiative supports Fallin's Oklahoma Works initiative.
Dr. Sean McDaniel, MPS superintendent, said earning the right to be called a STEM community means the district is paying attention to the curriculum, the program and STEM skills needed to prepare students to be successful.
"Being a STEM community says we have great partnerships with the city, the business community and obviously, with our teachers and parents," he said. "And we are paying attention to the skills that our kids need to have to be successful when they get out of school."
The process to become a STEM Community School District began in the spring of 2014. Baseline data was collected for six areas including community awareness and workforce development, the development of STEM partnerships, a results-oriented action plan, recognition, rewards and more. Over the next two years, the district focused on growing those areas. Partnerships with outside experts in STEM business sectors were cultivated such as energy, aerospace and agriculture and included the likes of (Ret) Gen. Ben Robinson. McDaniel said Dr. Angela Mills, assistant superintendent, and Gaile Loving, who recently retired as the district's science curriculum coordinator, were instrumental in receiving the designation.
"We have a kindergarten through 12th grade STEM pathway that has become more and more defined so that every student in Mustang from kindergarteners to seniors has access to STEM," McDaniel said. "Whether it's through events, programs or a specific set of classes, we are trying define that pathway so that more kids have that access. Being designated as a STEM community means that the business community and the governor have noticed what is going on in Mustang. They recognize STEM is important to us as a school district and as a city."
Every site has a STEM club and activities. Last summer, Mustang Schools partnered with Canadian Valley Technology Center to create two week-long STEM camps. Mustang teachers paired with CVTech instructors for each of six courses: robotics, streaming into space, video and movie making, computer science, digital bling and signs of crime. Earlier this semester, Mustang Schools organized its first Saturday STEM Camp for students in grades fifth through eighth grade. Students attended a morning session for three Saturdays where they worked on their projects and then created a display board of their methods or findings. Fifty-six students participated.