Project-Based Learning

Fort Wayne Schools Taps Private Partner to Boost STEM and PBL

Fort Wayne Community Schools is teaming with a private partner to beef up its STEM offerings.

The board of trustees for the district has approved a contract that will bring Discovery Education in to provide professional development for teachers and the development of an inquiry- and project-based learning system at seven different schools.

The move builds on an existing relationship between the district and Discovery Ed, which previously worked to update and improve the STEM curriculum at the district's science and math magnet school, Irwin Elementary. Two of the schools covered under the new contract, Portage Middle School and Wayne High School, are the schools Irwin students attend later in their academic careers.

"In addition, the district's fine arts magnet schools will be enhanced with a STEAM initiative," according to a district news release. "Whitney Young Early Childhood Center, Weisser Park Elementary School, Memorial Park Middle School and South Side High School will incorporate more STEAM-based concepts into the curriculum, as well as focus more on inquiry-based and project-based learning."

At the arts magnet schools, the fine arts curriculum will also be updated to include STEAM concepts related to musical and theatrical performances, design and graphic arts.

Implementation will take place over four years, with the first, the 2018-2019 school year, devoted to building a vision and foundation and communicating with students and parents about the new methods and expectations. In year two, the district and partners will build a foundation for project-based learning and in the third teachers will be expected to deepen their STEM knowledge across subjects and grade levels. The final year of implementation will be devoted to ensuring the new framework is sustainable.

"The work with Discovery will not create a curriculum that we will be locked into and may become outdated over time," said Get Nichols, assistant superintendent of elementary education, in a prepared statement. "We want to create a learning environment where children are immersed in project-based learning and can adapt to the changing world they will encounter."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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