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Tri-Cities Christian School launches new STEM program

Holly Viers • Aug 12, 2017 at 6:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Now that class is officially in session at Tri-Cities Christian School, students will soon begin noticing a few changes in the classroom.

After a couple years of planning, the school recently launched its new STEM program, which will place more emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math.

“We want our children to have the very best education we can possibly give them to go out into the workforce and go out into society and be leaders,” said Brad Davis, director of operations and vice chairman of the school’s board of directors. “Our goal here, our motto, is ‘Training today’s leaders to be tomorrow’s Christian leaders,’ and we want them to have the very best in every type of education they can have.”

Steve Owen, one of the leaders of Tri-Cities Christian School’s new STEM committee, said a program like this is more important now than ever given the changes in the job market.

“The (2017) report by the Department of Commerce shows that STEM jobs are going to vastly outpace non-STEM jobs,” he said. “Over the last decade, there was a 24 percent increase in STEM jobs versus a 4 percent increase in non-STEM jobs.”

As part of the program, students will perform more hands-on experiments and can participate in more activities outside the classroom, including a STEM club and a science fair, which will be open to all schools in the area.

Polly Owen, another leader of the school’s STEM committee, said the science fair will welcome several accomplished scientists, who will act as judges and mentors to the students.

“We know a lot of scientists and engineers from Eastman and from other places who are going to serve as judges,” she said. “We can encourage every student in the community to bring in their science projects and to get input from these judges.”

Students will also enhance their computer skills with Chromebooks, which are high-speed computers that run on a Google operating system. These computers will allow students to access more than two million constantly updating applications that are designed for classroom learning.

“It’s pretty much the standard for education, because teachers can share information with the students in real time,” Steve Owen said. “That program we’re hoping to get launched by early next year.”

Although the STEM program is new, Steve Owen added that the school has been implementing some STEM-related changes over the past few years, including a more rigorous computer curriculum that covers keyboarding, Microsoft Office, HTML programming and cloud computing.

The school also already offers advanced courses in calculus, chemistry, physics and anatomy, and engineering courses such as intro to engineering and computer-aided design are in the works.

The Owenses added that the STEM program will also be beneficial for students who are not planning to pursue a STEM career.

“I don’t think there’s a job that has not been touched by technology,” Polly Owen said. “It’s very important that our students in this area are ready for that challenge when they get into the workforce.”

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