Gov. approves high-tech classrooms grant
The University received a $300,000 grant from the Office of Gov. Bob McDonnell Monday to plan a science education partnership with Charlottesville City Schools.
The partnership will encourage scientific learning by providing students high-tech equipment to work with, Curry Prof. Glen Bull said, and will be supplemented by funding the University has already received from the National Science Foundation, Motorola and other foundations and corporations.
“It’s the nation’s first laboratory school for advanced manufacturing technology,” Bull said. “The United States is calling for the first time for teaching science in context.”
Students at Buford Middle School will get 3-D printers, which cost $1,000 per device, starting in August. The new course will give them the opportunity to learn how to use and program the technology, Bull said.
The science teachers will have a video link to two graduate students, who will staff a lab 40 hours per week to provide technological support for the curriculum, Bull said.
Buford eighth-grade student Angie Salinas said she has had an opportunity to work with the 3-D printing technology this year as part of the Young Women Leaders Program, which partners young female students from around the city with University women studying in STEM fields.
“It’s not that bad — it was pretty easy to catch on to,” Salinas said. “I’m pretty good with computer software and setting up stuff.”
The grant from the governor’s office would help University professors, graduate and undergraduate students, and City school officials plan a curriculum, said Libbey Kitten, the science coordinator for Charlottesville City Schools.
“What we’re hoping to do is [develop] a program over the years that spans down to [kindergarten] and up through high school,” Kitten said. “We’re bringing in advanced manufacturing technologies and using them to teach science concepts.”
Now the educators must submit a proposal to be approved by the state’s Department of Education during the summer so the new classrooms will be ready when school starts in August at Buford. City and University officials plan to build a lab at Charlottesville High School in the summer of 2014.