Bridging the Funding Gap For Students in Rural Schools

Updating Science Curricula to Meet State Standards

We know a solid foundation in science is a key element for many careers and is essential to student’s success beyond school. This is especially true for students in rural areas, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs bring everything together to give them more well-rounded skills such as problem-solving and collaboration.

LPOSD’s mission is to provide every student with an education that is academically rigorous, personally enriching and socially responsible in order to ensure college and career readiness for all students.

It’s a mission made all the more challenging when the State of Idaho updated it’s State Standards but didn’t provide funding for schools like Southside to update their curricula.

Thanks to our donors and a partnership with Equinox Foundation, we were able to bridge that gap by providing Southside Elementary with what we think is the best STEAM curriculum program on the market: SmartLabs.

The curriculum is designed to challenge students to a higher level of thinking and to learn the science/engineering process. Hands-on kits allow them to gain experience in circuitry, computer graphics, mechanics and structural engineering, robotics, and sustainability.

The program starts with each cohort of students choosing the problem they want to tackle for the year. At Southside, they chose problems like:

How can gardeners reduce waste at harvest time?

How can we build a BMX bike?

How can we improve timekeeping devices?

How can we reduce waste in our cafeteria?

The process looks like this

 Updating Science Curricula to Meet State Standards

  1. Pose the question
  2. Imagine solutions
  3. Make a plan.
  4. Get to work and create
  5. Improve

The data:

Idaho students are assessed on the Science ISAT in grades 5 and 7. LPOSD testing results have been relatively flat.

Proficiency rating is as follows:

2016: 66%

2017: 67%

2018: 65%

To break out of this plateau, the district, and PAFE, have placed a priority on STEAM to directly and positively impact student achievement in science.

We applaud Southside for the enormous effort to update the curriculum on their own, a task that is highly labor-intensive. They have been a pioneer in the school district when it comes to STEAM. Since they have incorporated SmartLabs, parents have reported back to us that “STEAM Thursdays are their children’s’ favorite day.”

They learn skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and even public speaking as you can see in this video where each student presents their project to the rest of the school as well as many adults and even the STEAM certification guy!

A few more pictures from your visit:

Updating Science Curricula to Meet State Standards

Updating Science Curricula to Meet State Standards