OKCPS works to place new, cutting-edge STEM centers in all elementary schools

June 24, 2019

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — Oklahoma City Public Schools is working to place new, cutting-edge STEM Centers in all of its elementary schools.

According to a release, the centers would provide hands-on, exploratory learning environments for students to help them reach their full potential in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Providing a world-class education for every student in the district is truly our best investment. We know getting kids involved in STEM education early and often makes a huge difference for their success and for our workforce needs in the future,” Foundation for OKCPS President and CEO Mary Mélon said.

According to a report in a release by the Honing Co., 71 percent of children in Oklahoma do not read proficiently by the end of the third grade, putting them at risk for long-term academic failure.

"What the schools have now is not a lot, honestly," Mélon said.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, there are 108,000 children with parents who are or have been incarcerated, something Oklahoma's state superintendent said is affecting students in classrooms every day.

OKCPS officials said the new STEM centers could be a game-changer for its students.

"Data shows that giving our kids frequent and consistent exposure to stem related products and education will really help them develop their interest in stem education which we know if a huge driver in our workforce in the future," Mélon said.

Mélon said the centers will help students develop critical thinking skills, teamwork and collaboration.

"The STEM centers will include things like robotics. They've have laptop computers that can be used to solve problems and work on coding. Really early, early kind of coding," Mélon said.

The centers will be used for all subjects, beyond math and science, for teachers to build a curriculum around.

"It's going to be really comprehensive. It will feed into our kids ability to grow their critical thinking skills," Mélon said.

Each center will cost $30,000.

"The national Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation will provide hands-on tools such as 3-D printers, furniture, supplies and products such as Snap Circuits, Ozobots, ROK Blocks, Coding Express and Bee Bots," Mélon said.

“When OKCPS announced the Pathway to Greatness initiative to realign district resources, we promised to provide trade-ups at every campus. Placing a STEM center in each elementary school will be a highly visible sign our community supports equity across the district," OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel said in a release.

"They (Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation) have provided this turn key solution that's going to make it so easy for us to get these installed, easy, with the caveat that we have to have our communities help to make it happen," Mélon said.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools is still seeking partners to help place the centers in all 33 elementary schools.

“The Foundation for OKCPS has already received generous support and commitments from the American Fidelity Foundation, Ascent Resources, BancFirst, Boeing, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy, FSB Architects, Kimray, the Inasmuch Foundation, OERB and Tinker Air Force Base,” Mélon is quoted as saying in the release.

Individuals and companies who would like to learn more or sponsor an elementary school’s STEM centers should email mary@okckids.com or call 405-604-5977.

Read the full story on Fox 25.