Make your home page

The Morning Bell: STEM in Washington Township schools

Morning Bell: STEM in Washington Township schools

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Every month, WISH-TV highlights a local school district with “The Morning Bell,” a conversation focused on new or exciting programs and accomplishments within Indiana schools.

On Monday, staff from the Washington Township Metropolitan School District joined News 8 at Daybreak to talk about the emphasis on STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, in the district.

Tim Blom, the director of teaching and learning for grades K-5, and Nataki Pettigrew, the chief academic and DEI officer in the district, spoke about the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math for students of all ages.

Pettigrew, who has a doctorate in education, says the world has changed, and to be globally competitive, kids should be prepared for STEM.

“There’s so many opportunities in science and technology,” Pettigrew said. “So we’ve got to think of kids that – perhaps they don’t know what they want to do as a child, perhaps they’re exposed to STEM and it clarifies and solidifies what they want to do. Or perhaps you have kids that say, ‘You know, when I’m an adult, I’m going to be a doctor or an engineer,’ and then STEM solidifies that for them. So, STEM is so important for our district because we want kids to be globally competitive and to be able to fulfill those jobs of tomorrow.”

The district starts students in STEM courses in elementary school, then grows their exposure and opportunities in middle and high school.

“We have a technology class that all of our students experience on a weekly basis.,” Blom said. “They’re learning the fundamentals of computer science, they’re coding. We even have 3D printers in some of our classrooms, so, students are doing the whole design-to-print process.”

Blom added that the district adopted a new science curriculum for the 2023-24 school year to provide more hands-on experiences. “We just think it’s really important that we’re setting our youngest students up for what they’ll be able to experience when they get to our middle schools and high schools,” he said.

Through community-supported referendums in 2016 and 2020, the district was able to help fund enhanced learning opportunities for students. This includes upgrades to teaching and learning spaces, and in some cases, new school buildings.

“We’re grateful to our community for voting for this referendum. So, we have redesigned our learning spaces, we have labs, we have two new elementary schools, a new middle school, and the expansive project in North Central that will allow students to work collaboratively in the way that we would like to see in STEM,” Pettigrew said.

Watch the video in this story to see the full interview.