November 1, 2017
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – It’s been a huge push for Columbia County Schools to add more cyber courses and activities to integrate throughout the classroom and part of the way they’re doing that is by training the ones who are teaching your kids.
Brenda Balliet the Accelerate Math teacher at Riverside Middle, “The whole idea is STEM you try it if it doesn’t work you go to the next thing and you try it again.”
Columbia County schools hope the first time is the charm. Starting cyber education as early as middle school to hook hundreds of kids to go into the cyber industry.
“It’s so hands-on”, Alicia Stephenson, the Instructional Specialist at Stallings Island Middle & Lakeside Middle explains, “and they learned so much just by testing and trying out the different circuits to see what works and what doesn’t work.”
This is the first year Columbia County is using the new curriculum through a very hands-on training to teach cyber, now on the middle school level.
“They had a stack of supplies and we got to pick which things we wanted to make our flashlight with,” said Stephenson.
Using circuits to create flashlights, middle school teachers got their first look at what that curriculum looks like. All of this training is through NICERC, a training company that focuses on finding a way to put STEM and cyber in the classroom across all subjects.
“When Homeland Security saw it they thought, this is good, and we need this especially in our military areas so they’re hitting those areas,” said Dr. Jeff Carney, Associate Superintendent Columbia County schools.
But the hope is to integrate STEM into every course. For middle schooler’s that means cyber-friendly activities and not just in math or science classrooms.
“If you don’t have the art piece, you still can’t design anything. If you don’t have the literary piece, students can’t write about or explain what they’ve done, said Stephenson.
Lakeside Middle School is the first school in Columbia County that’s STEM certified. The district hopes all eight of its middle schools reach that point with help from programs like this.
“These kind of lessons they’re teaching right now, our teachers can walk into the classroom and implement them immediately,” said Dr. Carney.
This was a two-day training session for both high school and middle school, but the district says over the course of this summer they hope to add more of these training sessions for a much longer period of time.