Jackson Local has taken the science part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematical and Medicine (STEMM) programming to new levels.
"We're seeing, through student surveys, a higher interest in science-related courses," JHS assistant principal Michael Hamm said.
High School students taking their ACT have scored progressively higher on average in the science section than the statewide average. So Jackson is working to meet the needs of its students when it comes to these areas of learning.
"We want to get our graduates college ready," Hamm said. "The cutoff score for 'college ready' on the ACT is 22 and, on average, our students are scoring 24.2. Plus, we have 62 percent of students meeting the college ready benchmark compared to 44 percent for the state average."
Jackson has seen ACT scores for the science section increase over the past four years. Helping prepare students for ACT testing is part of the district's commitment to getting students college and career ready.
"The world is moving toward the science and technology arenas," Hamm said. "Our kids are aiming toward that, too, and the rigorous curriculum and course selections we offer allows them to successfully do that."
Jackson students are looking more at science and technology careers, which demands a more rigorous curriculum. Part of what has been driving K-12 schools to incorporate science-enhanced programming has been the STEMM initiative.
STEMM, according to Ed.gov, is a national initiative to get more students in kindergarten through 12th grade interested in science-, technology- and engineering-related careers by increasing the number of classes offered.
STEMM at JHS
High school students at Jackson have a number of science classes to select from including regular courses of study such as earth science, chemistry, anatomy and physics. There also are advanced placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in biology, chemistry and physics. There also are courses such as marine biology, materials science and organic science available to students.
"The general requirement for graduation is for a student to have three science credits. We're seeing our students taking four or five science credits," Hamm said. "Some of the feedback we get from our graduates is that those who have gone onto college have said that by taking courses such as the materials and organic science classes it has helped to accelerate them in their college courses."
For the technology part of STEMM, students at Jackson are preparing for the next generation of assessment and online testing. Hamm said the online tests will evaluate student's understanding of science concepts, critical thinking and application skills.
The district also has transitioned to bring your own device policies which has allowed for open source, free textbooks to be used in biology and has moved the course to a more digital-based model. Plus, students are using cloud computing.
Page 2 of 2 - "Students work collaboratively using cloud computing. They can create a document and save to the cloud where other students can make additions or changes," Hamm said. "Students can work on lab reports and science projects together using cloud computing."
Students receive the mathematical part of STEMM through other courses such as science and the technology, engineering and medical courses offered through Career and Technical programming.
Career and Technical education offers programming that contributes to STEMM programming including Cisco Networking I, II, II and IV, Clinical Health Care Services and Civil Engineering & Architecture. There is also a science component in the Horticulture classes.
Keith Kohmann teaches the Civil Engineering and Architecture classes and Mechanical Drawing I and II. He has incorporated Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum into his classes. PLTW is a national provider of STEMM curricular programs.
Kohmann's students learn introduction to engineering design and principles of engineering their junior year. During their senior year, students complete capstone projects, which is also part of the PLTW curriculum, involving engineering research. Students work in teams to design, test and construct a resolution to an open-ended engineering problem.
Kathy O'Conner, administrative assistant for career and technical education at Jackson, said that students working in the Clinical Health Care Services program also receive STEMM-type classes including several science courses. Students completing the program have the opportunity to obtain several industry certifications.
"Students can sit for a number of certifications while still in high school including CPR, First Aid and STNA (State-tested Nursing Assistant)," O'Conner said. "Students can also start working in their senior year. Early placement allows them to secure a job when they graduate. Many of our career and tech programs have early job placement."