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Tonawanda Schools earn Distinguished Mention award for STEMrichment initiative

Students learning

Above: Fletcher Elementary School fourth graders make their own Claymation/stop-motion video production as part of a science class. Lessons such as these have earned the Tonawanda City School District a Distinguished Mention award at the Engaged level of the New York State STEM Quality Learning Rubric, as determined by the Western New York STEM Hub.

TONAWANDA, NY (Oct. 5, 2017)
– A focus on hands-on learning, student collaboration and “make-your-own” lessons have earned the Tonawanda City School District an honorable designation by the Western New York STEM Hub.

The hub has recognized Tonawanda with a Distinguished Mention award at the Engaged level of the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Quality Learning Rubric. This honor, as part of the WNY STEM Schools on the Move 2017 awards, will be presented to Tonawanda during a recognition dinner Oct. 12, hosted by Roswell Park.

“This designation solidifies that we are helping prepare our students for 21st-century careers and for job fields that will be established in the future,” said Renee Brady, one of Tonawanda’s three STEM coaches. “The NYS STEM Quality Learning Rubric focuses us to realize this goal by connecting our curriculum areas together, overlapping them so the students know a bit of everything to be successful.”
Tonawanda was recognized as an Emerging School System for STEM in 2014. Fletcher Elementary earned the Distinguished Mention award at the Engaged level last year. This year, all four schools in the district are being recognized with awards.
“Students at Tonawanda have the opportunity to explore multiple STEM enrichment activities due to the dedication of our STEM coaches and our teachers,” said Mary Beth Scullion, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. “They embrace the district’s STEM initiative using robotics, augmented reality, 3-D printing, coding, iPads, Chromebooks and so much more.”
The NYS STEM Quality Learning Rubric consists of nine criteria: degree of STEM integration, connections to non-STEM disciplines, degree of use of project-based learning, connections to STEM careers, individual accountability in collaborative work, application of the engineering design process, assessment of STEM learning, connections to STEM partners and degree of technology integration.
Tonawanda’s STEMrichment initiative works in conjunction with traditional lesson plans to allow teachers to teach through a STEM lens, thus altering the style and technique as to how information is conveyed to students. Noteworthy examples of the initiative in action include a fourth-grade science class in which students created their own Claymation/stop-motion videos and a fourth- and fifth-grade field trip to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda so students could conduct their own experiments on a carousel. The STEMrichment initiative also promotes collaborations with business partners in the community, including Praxair Inc. and Lowe’s.
The WNY STEM Hub awards are sponsored by Siemens Corp.

The WNY STEM Hub is an incorporated nonprofit with more than 700 individual members representing nearly 300 organizations in Western New York. It is an initiative of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and is affiliated with the National STEM Funders Network, the national STEMx network and the Empire State STEM Learning Network. Its aim is to create awareness and partnerships that serve learners of all ages in accessing STEM/STEAM learning and careers.