Archive for Thursday, June 15, 2006

Applied math, tech studied

$800,000 Kauffman Foundation grant has district looking at options

June 15, 2006

With a boost from metropolitan area businesses, De Soto USD 232 middle schools will start expanding math and technical education beyond the classroom.

With an $800,000 grant from the Kauffman Foundation, Lexington Trails Middle School is developing an exploratory class on math and science in technology.

Lexington Trails Principal Mark Schmidt said staff at the middle school was working to create a program for the 2007-2008 school year. The task of developing an exploratory program has been handed to Lexington Trails math teacher Mike Wiley.

The program will partner with organizations like Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City Area LifeSciences Institute and Terracon, to name a few.

"We really want to focus on the application of math and science," Schmidt said. "The grant is paying for Mike to develop the curriculum in nine-week classes and one semester-length class in eighth grade. Right now, he's fostering partnerships with engineering firms."

Schmidt said Wiley would also meet with Kansas State University and Kansas University engineering schools for ideas. The three-year plan is designed to use resources throughout the Kansas City area.

Dennis Cheek, vice president of education at the Kauffman Foundation, announced April 13 that De Soto is one of 13 selected from the Kansas City metropolitan area for the grant.

"Our goal is to help Kansas City become a national leader in mathematics, science and technology education," he wrote in a press release. "We want all area schools to engage students in high-quality learning, taught by well-prepared teachers, and inspire students to pursue math, science and technology in post-secondary schooling and careers."

Wiley said the program would be implemented in all three of the district's middle schools. He said he looked forward to giving students more learning opportunities and will talk to businesses throughout the summer to develop curriculum for the course.

De Soto USD 232 Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said the program would not only be beneficial to students, but the community as well.

"In the short term, the initiative will improve academic achievement outcomes. The long-term goal is to develop a successful local workforce."

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