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Innovation Academy marks STEM week with special guests, activities

Rick Wagner • Aug 17, 2018 at 5:27 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — If you visited Innovation Academy of Northeast Tennessee last week, you were almost bound to see something to do with STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, even more so than normal.

That’s because IA marked STEM Week with a series of activities and events Monday through Thursday, Aug. 13-16.

On Wednesday afternoon, a Wings Air Rescue medical helicopter from Ballad Health paid a visit to the school, landing on its football field. IA science teacher Ryan Lovelace said the week was a chance to show students firsthand principles of flight. The landing and takeoff had been scheduled for Tuesday but had to be postponed because of medical calls.

“It’s to promote all the opportunities the students have in Northeast Tennessee. We’re blessed with a lot of industry, and a lot of them are tied to STEM,” said Lovelace, a teacher at IA since it moved in 2014 to co-locate with Holston Middle School at the Holston Middle/Elementary school complex near Tri-Cities Airport.

The school opened as a combined program of Sullivan County Schools and Kingsport City Schools in 2012 in the former Brookside Elementary in Bloomingdale but moved to Blountville after KCS dropped its participation, although Holston Middle/IA Principal Jonathon Fields and Aaron Flanary of central office said among the school’s 140 students are ones from other areas, including Kingsport and Johnson City. Early on, the school was honored by Apple for its focus on what education officials call hands-on, minds-on learning.

Flanary is the county system’s facilitator of career technical education and early postsecondary education.

On Tuesday afternoon, seventh- and eighth-grade English/language arts and social studies teacher Brandee Bridges lead a group of students in a team-building exercise. Basically, the students held hands to form and circle and passed Hula Hoops along the line of students without letting go of their hands. Fields said that was to break up some of the STEM activities and get the students outside a bit.

Before that, sixth-graders in Juanita Young’s sixth grade class saw a presentation from Travis Brickey, public information officer for the Kingsport Fire Department, about potential careers in emergency medical services and firefighting.

Lovelace said that a TVA official presented to students on how and what the federal public utility was doing to fix the leaky Boone Dam. Other presenters came from Eastman Chemical Co.; Universal Companies, a business communications operation from Abingdon; Ballad Health; Strongwell Corp.; the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing; and the Kingsport Police Department SWAT team.

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