CRANE, Ind. -- Representatives of Crane Army Ammunition Activity visited Childs Elementary School, Bloomington, Ind., April 18 in order to see its science lab that was possible through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program.
The lab is used for all elementary students at Childs and is also open to the other elementary schools in the Monroe County Community School Corporation. It was financed through CAAA's STEM program that is funded by the National Defense Education Program.
During their visit to the school, CAAA's Civilian Executive Assistant Norman Thomas and Resource Management Director Deborah DeLaney watched fourth and sixth graders perform various experiments in the lab. The benefit of the lab is that it provides a dedicated space for all the teachers to use.
"It is great to have this space," Childs' Principal Chris Finley said. "It gives the kids a place to come in and get their hands on the equipment. It is just a great learning experience."
Teaching science lessons often requires students to engage in creative problem solving that takes time, space and material. Due to the space limitations of classrooms and student's schedules, hands-on, long-term experiments often are not possible.
According to Childs sixth grade science and math teacher Liz Robb, having a separate space like the science lab allows her to plan and implement lessons that are more involved, messy or take multiple days to complete. She said, "Organized, dedicated storage space for STEM materials is a huge part of being able to expand students' exploratory learning. The variety of materials we now have allows me to plan authentic, thematic, and cross-curricular learning."
Robb explained, "Students see 'going to the science lab' as a fresh, new experience, which serves to pique their interest and prime their brains for learning. They understand that our community highly values this aspect of their school day, as it deserves a special place in the building, one shared by all grade levels, for a singular purpose. Students can see other students' products and supplies 'in process' and this helps to strengthen our bonds as a school community. Sixth graders set up and shared a science 'demo fair' for younger grades to come and tour their hands-on stations - there is no other place in the building we could have done this."
Robb's excitement for the lab was echoed by other teachers at Childs. Third grade teacher Jacqueline Miller added, "Having a special place where the students can experiment with various types of science makes the experience more meaningful and magical to them. Many students will thrive when using the multitude of tools that Crane has provided us. The children are always thrilled when I say, 'We're going to the science lab' before even hearing what the lesson is."
Last month, the MCCSC School Board accepted a monetary donation through the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program from Crane Army Ammunition Activity and gave a formal thank you for its support.
The donation was made by CAAA Commander Col. Linwood Clark at the MCCSC school board meeting March 26. Through its STEM program that is funded by the National Defense Education Program, CAAA has provided MCCSC with more than $49,000 to help with various educational programs.
According to Jean Schick, Bloomington High School North Science Teacher/Dept. Head and MCCSC Science Coordinator, "The benefits of the STEM donation goes well beyond the dollars and cents of equipment and supplies. The donation supports our efforts to provide engaging science content and process. Engaging our students in science provides the inspiration, motivation and awareness for students to consider science as a viable career option in the future."
The money is being donated to help in the following ways:
- Project Lead the Way Program at Tri-North Middle School, with approximately 55 students enrolled the first year.
- Science Resource Center Material/Supplies available to all K-6 classes and some equipment that will be used by K -12, including microscope, digital eyepieces and software.
- Science Lab at Child's Elementary that will be used by multiple schools within the school system.
- Sponsorship of the Bloomington High School South Quadrangles (Robotics Team), allowing them to receive a $3500 grant from NDEP addition to the money given to Monroe County.
Clark told the board that the STEM money is CAAA's opportunity to give back to the community where its employees work and live. CAAA draws its employees from many Southern Indiana counties, including Monroe County.
"We realize that there are a number of Crane employees that live in Monroe County and have children in our school system. That aside, Crane has been an outstanding neighbor for all the surrounding counties and communities," Keith Klein, MCCSC school board president, said. "We cannot thank you and your predecessors at Crane enough for all that you have done to support public education. And this is an especially nice gift to our schools and our school children."
CAAA's STEM donations to Monroe County are not limited to MCCSC though. Other Projects completed in the Bloomington area include Vex Robotic Kits for the Hoosier Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America which will be used for summer camps and two displays at WonderLab.
CAAA was established in Oct. 1977 and is a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command. The Army activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.