LOVELAND, Ohio (WKRC) - While most of the learning at Symmes Elementary takes place in the classroom, a former Sycamore Schools school bus is now a magical school bus for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. This educational vehicle was developed by assistant superintendent Karen Naber and through the support of donors, staff, and educators.
"The idea was to bring STEAM-based education to the schools and she wanted to have a second component to go to designated neighborhoods in Sycamore Schools to help with homework and to give children an experience with STEAM education where they might not have that opportunity," said Mr. Steve Reinke, 2nd grade teacher and science subject specialist at Symmes Elementary.
The bus is equipped with touch screen monitors, virtual reality equipment, Wi-Fi, and lower-tech tools to help students learn. On Tuesday, students were tasked with finding a way move a marble to a bell and design the tallest tower. By thinking, building, rebuilding, and teamwork, students gained essential STEAM skills.
Reinke said, "We've had many successes with this and children are experiencing how much fun this is, but they are also realizing that it takes a lot of collaboration and it takes a lot of effort on their part for this design task."
While students ultimately benefit from the project-based learning, the Aviation Station also helps teachers tailor their teaching strategy.
"When I go back to the classroom, it helps me sort of redesign the curriculum to sort of bring that part out in them and that comes out in STEAM education," explained Reinke.
The skills that these students are learning on the bus are helpful not just for short term problem solving, but they can use these skills throughout their time at Sycamore and eventually as part of a career.
Reinke said, "I think that it's true that the vast majority of children who are 6, 7, and 8 years old right now will be growing up to do a job that hasn't even been invented yet. What they really need are these soft skills of collaboration, getting along with someone else, and learning how to solve a problem ...and that's what is going to help them in the future."