New program at Shorter aims to spark younger students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math
Local eighth-graders in Rome and Floyd County are being offered the chance to get hands-on learning and group instruction with the launch of a new enrichment program at Shorter College.
Shorter, along with the Etowah Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center (GYSTC) have partnered up to sponsor SCIO – a science-based learning program that will begin in February 2009.
SCIO, an acronym for Student Curiosity, Innovation and Opportunity, is also a Latin verb meaning “to know” from which the English word science is derived. Privately funded through a donation made by Massachusetts resident Mark Gelfand, Shorter’s SCIO program will give 16 local students an opportunity to work closely with higher education science specialists to develop science fair projects that will be showcased to the community in March 2009.
Middle school students will be selected by principals from Floyd County Schools, Rome City Schools, Darlington School, Unity Christian School, St. Mary’s Catholic School and the local homeschooling chapter. The students will attend 90-minute learning sessions twice weekly for two months on Shorter’s campus to plan, design, and implement science projects that will go beyond the traditional tri-board focus.
“It's really important that students have the opportunity to experience the fun and creative world of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Gelfand, whose philanthropic giving to the advancement of science in young minds has been felt as far away as Africa.
“The science fair gives each student a chance to pick their own interesting question and then explore that in amazing detail. It's definitely hands-on experimenting, which students everywhere crave. The excitement of the science fair competition will become a favorite highlight of the school year.”
SCIO will also cultivate students’ teamwork skills, said the dean of Shorter’s School of Education and Social Sciences, Dr. Charles T. Wynn. “The teamwork concept is particularly critical for middle school students as they learn to value other opinions, brainstorm ideas, negotiate viewpoints, share responsibilities, and delegate workloads. The teams will develop a bond out of mutual interests and common goals and give students practical experience with cooperative and research team dynamics.”
Students will also incorporate technology into their experience by recording their project process. “This will allow students to create a ‘production’ to capture the process of innovation in its entirety from planning to final project,” Wynn said. “The SmartBoard technology will allow students to produce an interactive and high-tech science fair project and a blog will be utilized so that team members and instructors can be in constant communication throughout the process.”