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South Valley Journal

Grant Brings More School To Students At Oquirrh Hills Middle

Nov 06, 2014 07:14AM ● By Sherry Smith
By Sherry Smith

Sixty students at Oquirrh Hills Middle School are thrilled to spend an additional four hours in class each week. They even applied to do it, and more than 55 were turned away. What would make the typical middle school student want more school? Computers and robots.

Jordan School District applied for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) grant from the Department of Workforce Services for underserved populations. At OHMS, that population is students in ALPS or the Advanced Learning Placement Program for Students.

The grant will allow selected students to stay after school for an additional two hours twice a week to study computer programming, including writing apps or games or to study robotics. The grant will provide busing, two teachers for each course and equipment.

Classes began Nov. 3 and will go through the end of the school year. Funds will also be available to double the size of the program next year and add a third year.

“Most middle schools do not have after school programs. We are lucky to have this program. STEM is the new buzzword. The Department of Workforce Services chose 60 students to participate in the program from 117 applications. Those who didn’t make it this year are top priority for next year,” Vice Principal Terry Price said.

Projections show that the availability of STEM jobs will increase by 62 percent by 2020 and that STEM jobs outnumber other jobs by a three to one ratio.

“We are trying to help students develop a skill set on problem solving. It’s important for our kids to be better prepared. We want them to come out of this program with something. The teachers serve as guides,” Jordan School District Curriculum Technology Specialist Harrison Beckett said.

By the end of the school year, students in the computer programming class will have written an app for a mobile device or designed a game. The end product will be student-chosen.

The robotics students will be designing and programming Lego Mindstorm robots and competing with them in robotics competitions during the course of the year.

Students will also attend field trips exploring STEM jobs.