CLARKSBURG — The Harrison County Board of Education heard two presentations regarding both STEAM and STEM education, as well as updates on what is going on around the school system.
STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math, while STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Grant Spencer, secondary curriculum coordinator for Harrison County Schools, gave an update on the STEAM Center that has been constructed at the new board offices. The center will be able to facilitate a wide range of events for every school in the county.
“This is an open room to work in, and we’ve got some tables and chairs still to order,” he said. “I envision the science fair coming here, buses pulling up and dropping kids off to train here, those drones coming back to our STEAM Center here and schools coming in and using them.”
In other business, Dr. Javaid Syed and Dr. Debra Harrison, both of Salem International University, spoke to the board about partnering on a project with Harrison County Schools. One of the main focuses of the project would be to put students in a higher education setting to get them excited about their future.
“We want students to spend time at the university, have them go through an exercise of assembling drones,” Syed said. “They will work in math and physics, fly the drones and see what they have made. We will show them how to collect data, how to download the data and how to analyze the data.”
During this project, students would be spending time at Salem International University, getting a feel for what it’s like to be on a college campus, Syed said.
“They get to see what happens, and it may get them interested in higher education,” he said. “At the end, we would let them take their drones to their schools and expect them to come back after three months to make presentations on what kind of unique application they have using the drone.”
In other business, Board President Gary Hamrick said members will be looking at recouping some money after being required by the School Building Authority to hire a construction manager for the Johnson Elementary School project.
“The SBA is now being challenged over the fact that we’ve been forced to have a construction manager on this job, which adds about $974,000 to the cost of the project,” Hamrick said. “I have a problem where we’re giving almost a million dollars to an out-of-state company to come in and tell us how to build a school we know how to build, and we already have a qualified contractor that’s building that.”
Hamrick said following an SBA meeting last week that other counties are also trying to renegotiate with the SBA to recoup some of those fees.
“I don’t know if that’s going to be successful or not, but I hope that this county would do the same thing, follow that along closely and do what we can to negotiate to get that money back,” he said. “We are over budget when you look at it. It’s an expense, and we’re going to pay it, but the SBA won’t require it on future contracts, and that’s almost a million dollars down the drain no one else will pay.”
The board also:
— Received information about the fourth annual Family Day, which will be held Saturday at Meadowbrook Mall.
— Approved an affiliation agreement between West Virginia Junior College and county schools for the placement of students who will be trained to become information technology professionals.
—Received an update on last year’s AP test scores in the county. Dr. Donna Hage mentioned that 420 students have scheduled AP classes this year.
Staff writer Victoria L. Cann can be reached at (304) 626-1409 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @vcann_theet