LIBERTY - Digging into the ground of W.S. Guy Middle School, Arwan Clinkscale, 11, spent part of the this week looking for worms, centipedes and other insects to study as part of a summer science program sponsored by her school.
"Science has always been one of my favorite subjects," Clinkscale said. "We've been learning about cells and DNA, about different gases and acids."
The two-week program is allowing future sixth-grade students this week and fifth-graders next week to get more concentrated hands-on experiences with science than they typically would receive during the school year.
Tribune Chronicle / Raymond L. Smith
Arwan Clinkscale, Joy Griffin, Haneen Kotb and Jemyra Cheers look at a centipede they dug up as part of a science program, part of a special STEM grant Liberty Schools received this year. To see or purchase these and other photos, visit cu.tribtoday.com
The program is funded through a grant from the Ohio Board of Regents for its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program.
The district is focusing the one-year grant on its middle schools because it wants to prepare students for more rigorous high school curriculum.
"We are trying to get students thinking about careers in these fields at a much younger age, because those students who show skills and interest have to begin planning what kinds of math and science courses they are going to take in high school,'' Kathy Carlile, the district's supervisor for curriculum, grants and educational technology, said.
The district is working with professors at Youngstown State University and Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rootstown. It will continue to work with YSU throughout the school year with YSU professors Felicia Armstrong, Carol Lamb and Darryl Wallace.
"What has been nice about this is they are able to do things where they can discover science concepts themselves," Glenda DeVito said. "What has been good about STEM is students can see the interconnections between the various disciplines. They can see how science can be related to technology, engineering and math.
''We want them to see they are not isolated," she said.
Other school districts that received K-8 STEM Programs of Excellence Awards this year include Girard and Youngstown. YSU is working with them as well as the Warren City Schools.
Carlile said the district plans to begin a STEM club, with the students taking these summer classes being its first members.
"We want kids to start the year excited about science and the possibilities of what they can learn," she said.
Krystina Graham, 10, said she enjoyed taking saliva swabs and looking at them under a microscope.
"What we've been doing is making me more interested in science," she said.