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Science education has a new feel at Mount Aviat

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Staff reporter

CHILDS, Md. – A STEM grant has changed the look and feel of science education at Mount Aviat Academy.

According to the school, Mount Aviat received a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) grant last spring to implement changes to its classrooms. The school’s science lab now includes an ActivSound enhancement system, ready access to iPads and a set of MacBook laptops, and learner-response devices that allow the students to be connected to the room’s Promethean board – an apple version of a SMART Board.

Kate Fisher-Shute, the middle-school science teacher, said the new equipment appeals to the students “because everything they do is technology. It’s so inherent in how they do everything. They’re just geared that way. My lab doesn’t even have a blackboard.”

With ActivSound, Fisher-Shute can wear a microphone in class and does not have to raise her voice to get their attention. She also carries a tablet computer with her that is connected to the Promethean board, so she can walk around the class while she puts things up for the students to see.

“It’s pretty cool. We have a lot of great programs that we can do on there,” she said.

So far this year, Mount Aviat students have used their new resources to research the benefit of installing solar panels; research alternative forms of energy and the building of model wind turbines; build balloon race cars; and designing commercials using iMovies software for colonies they planned for Mars.

School officials said students were responsible in part for Mount Aviat receiving the grant. Last year, eighth-grade students participated in a Maryland STEM Portfolio Project. They used GPS units to plot the exact coordinates of the school’s outdoor volleyball court, then imported them into Google Earth, and they researched the best surface material for the court.