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School Choice Week: Science of STEM

10:24 AM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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"People are nice here and at my old school, we didn't have a chance to use computer time and have lockers," said Imagin.

She attends the new STEM Launch school. This kindergarten through 8th grade program is part of a wider effort to get more younger kids into the field of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Bobbie Bastian is the digital media specialist at STEM Launch. She says nationwide, there is a serious issue in these fields.

"Especially in the engineering areas, because there are not enough kids in math, science, and technology to actually fill the jobs," said Bastian. "So, if you get them interested in it when they're young, they'll continue to love it and go into those areas when they are older."

Imagin says so far, so good.

"I like science, technology, and engineering, but I don't like math because it's boring," said Imagin.

That's exactly the sentiment teachers like Ramon Alatorre are trying to change. He is an electrical engineer turned math teacher.

"Very few people do math for the sake of math," said Alatorre. "You learn math so you can become an engineer. You learn math so you can become a physicist."

Alatorre says kids like Imagin can learn math once they're not afraid of it and changing that starts at a young age.

"To make a difference, you want to be able to teach them the math and build that confidence and build that foundation as soon as possible," said Alatorre.

STEM Launch is a school where students engage in problem-based learning. They attack real issue like to build better black bear habitat or the impacts of large wildfires.

"I talk to teachers and find out what kind of problems they're currently working on and I integrate technology into the problem," said Bastian. "My 7th and 8th graders are working on the Verizon App challenge where they actually have to create a concept."

Being a new school, STEM Launch faces some challenges, according to STEM Coordinator Michelle Priola. She says when parents come in; they are both excited and nervous.

"Launch is a fabulous word for our school," said Priola. "There's a lot of logistical pieces in a new school. We're still unloading boxes. We're still finding things in closets."

Alatorre says it's a challenge for teachers to create a new tradition.

"Like anything new, it's going to take a little bit of time before we really hit and really strive to achieve what we want to do."
STEM Launch is part of a larger effort to get more females and minorities into math and science fields.

"We wanted to show that STEM can work for all kids," said Priola.

It's a movement receiving support. Tuesday morning, the Morgridge Family Foundation will announce a $400,000 expansion grant for the Colorado STEM teacher training initiative to train more teachers in STEM subjects.

All this week, 9NEWS will profile different types of schools for 9NEWS School Choice Week. Parents have only a few more weeks to make preliminary choices for school for their kids for next year.

If you want to find a good school near you, check out our partners at www.ColoradoSchoolGrades.com. This is a free website that assigns a letter grade to every school in Colorado, based on academic performance.

Wednesday, 9NEWS will profile a traditional neighborhood school.

Imagin believes she has found the perfect fit for her future. She wants to grow up to become a veterinarian.

"I think a lot of girls like science," said Imagin. "You get to learn and have fun at the same time."

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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