Center for Coldwaters Restoration, Virginia Museum of Natural History partnering in STEM initiative
“STEM education is the foundation for well-paying jobs in the region,” says Len Poulin, chair of CCR’s board of directors, “and the strongest career preparation for our students.”
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math to which “plus H,” meaning “health,” is often added. STEM provides the basis for much of today’s K-12 curriculum. Over the past five years, CCR has been collaborating with VMNH to establish a branch campus in Waynesboro. While the state budget under consideration by the General Assembly contains a request for $250,000 for the next step in developing the proposed branch, VMNH has been augmenting classroom instruction in support of STEM for more than three years.
With a $500 grant from the Waynesboro-East Augusta County Rotary Club, CCR has created a dedicated fund to support VMNH STEM programming. The fund allows schools to take part in live sessions with educators at the museum in Martinsville delivered directly into classrooms by Internet.
Students and teachers will also benefit from the presence of a guest-teacher, specimens allowing hands-on-learning, and other related materials augmenting instruction.
Says retired Waynesboro High School Science teacher and CCR board member Jenna Konizer, “VMNH programs make STEM education come alive for students at a time when their curiosity about the natural world is beginning to peak.”
“We are delighted to be able to formally launch the CCR/VMNH fund for STEM education with this small grant,” says Teresa Gauldin, President of the Waynesboro-East Augusta County Rotary Club. “That VMNH distance-learning courses were piloted here with financial support from individual members of the CCR board,” she said, “was extremely important to us when we decided to initiate the fund.”
VMNH distance-learning course modules cost $250 each, says Konizer. They can be customized by teachers to fit within their lesson plans. Staff from the museum visit Waynesboro frequently and are available to teachers and supervisors to schedule STEM support throughout the academic year.
The CCR is committed to natural resource-based economic development based on the aquatic assets of the South River watershed. It a catalyst for the establishment of the branch VMNH campus in Waynesboro; a higher education consortium focused on ensuring the availability of high quality freshwater to sustain residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational activities in the region; a source of fish to maintain the South River trophy trout fishery; and a campus for branches of state and national natural resource agencies.
Created in 2008 by a group of interested citizens, CCR is a 501 (c) (3) organization.