With the onset of the recession and high unemployment rates, education is fundamental in succeeding in today’s economy. The Turlock Unified School District is looking to offer a program that will give students the leg-up they need to compete in high-demand science and technology fields.
The STEM program, a systematic approach that integrates the content and skills of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will be integrated over the course of three years and be offered to 30 seventh grade students as an elective program at Turlock Junior High School — starting with the 2013-14 school year.
“Sixth grade students will have the option to select STEM as an elective through a ballot,” said TJHS Principal Dave Kline. “It is a rigorous and competitive program that is educationally focused because students will be required to function at a high level. We will be looking at the student’s previous test scores and grades to determine the selection process. The ballot process will end in mid-February.”
The program would expand to eighth grade in 2014-2015, along with a pathway for the current seventh grade students.
“In 2015-2016, a pathway would also be created for our eighth grade students,” said Kline. “Eventually the program will serve approximately 100 students per grade through a lottery system. A STEM Club would be created as well.”
Students participating in the STEM program will be working with electronics and robotics and be asked to create solutions at an integrated level.
“We want our students to be ready,” said Kline. "This program will be a hands-on that offers real world applications. This program is intended to increase students’ ability to compete in a global market.”
The STEM program will cost the district up to $70,000 from one-time general fund reserves. On-going costs include $21,500 from TJHS General Education and categorical funds.
“This program is very important to us because we recognize the importance of science, math and technology in today’s industry,” said TUSD Superintendent Sonny DaMarto. “We are creating educational opportunities for our students. The goal of STEM education is to prepare students for post-secondary study and the 21st century workforce.”
For more information on the STEM program, parents are invited to attend Sixth Grade Parent Orientation at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the TJHS cafeteria.