School board focuses on Project Lead the Way

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By Donna Williamson

Opelika Observer

At the Opelika City Schools’ Board meeting on Tuesday, Joe Ross, principal of Carver Primary School, and Kyle Pinckard, secondary education coordinator, gave a presentation on Project Lead the Way, which is part of the nationally recognized science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

Ross, who has implemented Project Lead the Way at Carver, says that the program gives students an activity or challenge that is age appropriate. A Carver kindergarten class read different versions of “The Three Little Pigs, then students built houses using sponge bricks, toothpick straw, and popsicle sticks. The task was to build a house strong enough to survive demolition by the Big Bad Wolf, or in this case a hairdryer. According to Ross, students identify a problem, learn ways to solve the problem, and then redo if necessary. He emphasized that Project Lead the Way enables students to develop critical thinking skills and have fun at the same time.

Pinckard stressed the need to incorporate Career Technology into the lower grades, as well as at the high school. At Opelika Middle School, students learned the history of measurement and the importance of precise measurement by designing a car that rides on air. “The goal is for teachers to back away and let students explore,” Pinckard said. “In Project Lead the Way, teachers don’t tell the kids how to do it. Teachers ask questions and let the kids find their own answers. Our goal is get kids to think, to reason, and not to be afraid to fail.”

The board also approved the purchase of two new school buses. According to Kenneth Burton, Assistant Superintendent of Administration, the 2016 buses can be purchased based on the existing bid of 2012. The Alabama Bid Law states that existing bus bids can be used for the purchase of additional buses for up to three years if quantities purchased are not limited and the vendor agrees to sell the buses at the original bid price. The total cost is $207,442.00.

“We are in need of additional buses. The new buses will have air conditioning, an additional camera and a cargo department,” Burton said.

The next board meeting is December 9 and combines the November and December meetings.

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