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East County Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 6 months ago

Bradenton's Bashaw Elementary enhances its STEAM program

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Students at Bradenton's Bashaw Elementary will learn about drones, 3D printers, robotics and more through WOZ Ed kits.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Harper Longenberger, a third grader at William H. Bashaw Elementary School, stared up at the drone she was controlling with a tablet.

She watched as she slowly moved the drone over a few chairs.

With the help of Susan Smucker, the Woz Ed coordinator for the School District of Manatee County, Longenberger was able to safely land the drone on the chairs.

Longenberger was amazed by her first drone flight. 

“I was nervous because I didn’t know what to do,” Longenberger said. “It was pretty cool.”

Drones are one of the new enhancements to Bashaw Elementary’s STEAM program this year.

When Principal James Dougherty first took over as principal of Bashaw Elementary this year, he had one-on-one conversations with the staff about what changes they wanted to see at the school. Many teachers and staff members wanted to enhance the school’s program on science, technology, engineering, arts and math because it’s something in which they take pride, Dougherty said.

Dougherty has worked with the district to get different Woz Ed kits that teach students about drones, robotics, data science, engineering and design, 3D printers and more.

Woz Ed, which was founded by Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple with Steve Jobs, is a K-12 science and STEM curriculum provider that gives students opportunities for hands-on learning.

The state gave the school district about $950,000 to further science instruction. The district purchased science kits that provide hands-on lessons and curriculum for every fourth and fifth grade science class across the district.

Angel Jimenez, a fifth grader, and Veronica Jimenez look at William H. Bashaw Elementary School's new 3D printers.

Dougherty worked with Jennifer McManis, the STEM coordinator for the district, to also provide science kits for kindergarten through third grade at Bashaw.

Through the Woz Ed kits, students will learn how to build and create their own robots and develop engineering skills through a combination of coding, building, 3D modeling, augmented reality and more.

“One of the things I love about all these types of STEAM kids that are developed through Woz Ed is that they also incorporate the real-life application for these technologies,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty said introducing students to these new technologies and teaching them skills can inspire them to pursue more STEAM classes in middle and high school and possibly spark an interest in a career.

“While all these technologies are interesting and exciting, we’re also at the baseline where we can give the students the exposure to see what these are all about,” Dougherty said.

With the kits, Dougherty said teachers are able to infuse STEAM into other subjects including language arts and math.

Melissa Dowling, the chair of the school’s STEAM showcase, said teachers are working with the school’s reading coach, Necole Stutes, to build STEAM units to integrate into other aspects of

Elysee Thelusma, a third grader, shows off the plant he created using clay, straws, paper, foil, pipe cleaners and other items. He calls it "Cacto the flower."

students’ education.

“Integrating math with science and science with English and writing is what drives STEAM, bringing it all together, so that when you are reading informational text about something and how it applies to science or this formula, you see how it directly relates with the math concepts you’re learning,” Dowling said.

After teachers receive more training on the various Woz Ed kits, Dougherty hopes to start after-school clubs for drones and 3D printing beginning in January. He would like to see an aviation club and coding club in the future.

The media center will become home to a 3D printing lab so students can design projects in their classrooms and go to the media center to actually create their projects using the 3D printers. For example, students can work on an art project in art class and then go to the media center to bring their projects to life.

Angel Jimenez, a fifth grader, said he can’t wait until he can start using the 3D printers so he can make tools for math class.

“It’s so cool and so amazing that we can be able to use (the 3D printers),” Jimenez said.

Bashaw families were able to preview some of the STEAM enhancements during the school’s annual STEAM showcase Nov. 10. Students were able to try flying drones, look at the 3D printers and see how some of the kits provided hands-on learning.

“How cool is that to open up their minds to those things?” Dowling said. 

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