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New STEM program at West Branch Schools encourages hands-on learning

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Their projects are helping children with cerebral palsy

BELOIT, Ohio (WYTV) – When you were in school, did you like learning from a book or getting your hands into some supplies and figuring it out for yourself? Classes at West Branch Schools are taking the second approach with a new STEM program. Their projects are helping children with cerebral palsy.

Working in teams can be tough — the sixth grade class at West Branch is one of several classes learning that first hand.

“Teamwork is like the hardest thing because everyone has an idea and they all wanna use their idea and you gotta use the best idea,” said sixth grader Owen Bloss.

But teamwork is just one of the tasks they’re taking on and shining while doing so.

“I loved their conversations with each other. They were like, ‘Oh, we gotta help someone with cerebral palsy, tippy toes,'” said STEM teacher Denise Ginocchi.

For about three weeks, through the “Project Lead the Way” STEM program, they learned the design process by building a boot prototype for a child with cerebral palsy.

“They have to come up with a problem, brainstorm it, design it and test it, build it and redesign it,” Ginocchi said.

“We had to go back a lot and make adjustments, it didn’t fit our feet,” said sixth grader Leeve Adams.

The boot had to be comfortable, sizeable and sturdy to help a child walk.

The students loved it.

“We like doing the hands-on because it’s just fun than reading a book, it’s fun to actually experience it yourself,” Bloss said.

This was their first project. Next, they’ll take the boot to a hospital to show doctors.

Students from third grade on can take the STEM classes. The younger classes made festive “pumpkin picker” tools and bridges.

“It just opens up many doors for these kids to look at, different maybe paths that they wanna take as they get older. I hope the program, we can do a K-12 curriculum and be the front-runner in Mahoning County with our STEM school,” Ginocchi said.

The STEM program is all community-funded, meaning the supplies come from donations from the community.

If you’d like to help the kids continue their hands-on work, call the school treasurer’s office at 330-938-9324 ext. 37205 and tell them.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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