STEM school opens in Fond du Lac
Sep 07, 2012
A Fond du Lac elementary charter school that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and math studies (STEM) and receives unique support through a partnership with Mercury Marine opened its doors Tuesday for the first time.
The Fond du Lac STEM Academy, located at 401 South Military Road, began its first semester with 100 students in third through fifth grades.
The stated mission of the school is to “develop innovative, passionate learners by providing a rigorous and challenging project-based curriculum grounded in science, technology, engineering and mathematics” and to “encourage ingenuity and creativity using real-world, hands-on experience.”
The school resulted from a partnership between Mercury Marine and the Fond du Lac School District. Personnel from Mercury were integral in the development of the school, from conception to implementation.
Students at the STEM school will study a full range of subjects – from geography to English to music – with an emphasis on science and technology. Unlike a traditional classroom setting, students will learn from hands-on, project-based assignments.
Mercury Marine will offer technical expertise, technological resources and access to world-renowned engineering facilities at its headquarters to make class projects more interesting and engaging.
Mercury personnel will serve as role models for students and will provide real-world science and engineering applications. Mercury will benefit by working with a high-quality school that provides a viable tool for recruiting engineers and technicians to Fond du Lac. The school district will benefit from access to high-level technology-based resources. The school will provide high-quality STEM education for future scientists and engineers and will serve as a “laboratory” for developing instruction techniques that can be integrated into other schools within the district.
"Mercury is pleased to partner with the Fond du Lac School District to make available a unique learning environment for local students,” said Denise Devereaux, vice president of human resources at Mercury. “The Project Based Learning (PBL) approach of the Fond du Lac STEM Academy will prepare students for the methods that are utilized on a daily basis at Mercury Marine and other employers. We believe that mastering these skills will well prepare students for successful future careers. Several of the 100 students in the inaugural class are children of Mercury Marine employees."
As examples, students may study sound frequencies and melodies during music class at Mercury’s sound laboratory, or may use Mercury’s $500,000 scanning electron microscope to learn why a wasp’s eye is more advanced than an ant’s.
Steve Miller, a product category manager at Mercury, has a son who is attending the school.
“We were very excited when we heard of the STEM Academy,” said Miller. “My son, Macallan, has always had a very keen interest in life sciences, technology and in designing and building anything – from Lego structures and ships that he’s created from scratch, all the way up to life-size forts. When his second-grade teacher recommended the STEM program for him, we quickly applied for a spot.
“I had lunch with him yesterday – his first day there – and he was really in a great mood. He'd already made a new friend, and he made several comments about how much more he enjoys being in a group with kids from different grade levels and actively working on projects versus sitting in a traditional, lecture-style class.”