The Caldwell County Board of Education offers a unique opportunity for students to develop skills and interests in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with its most recent establishment of the Patterson Science Center, a stand-alone Science Center operated by the Caldwell County Schools on the campus of Patterson School.
Students in grades K-12 will experience one-day STEM trips to The Patterson Center that will be filled with age-appropriate, hands-on activities and studies in all STEM areas, but primarily in science. A fully licensed, dynamic science teacher and teacher assistant will manage the site year-round, with plans of scheduling student participation as early as this summer.
"Imagine a place where students can go in Caldwell County and spend the day immersed in hands-on activities, teamwork, and having fun while learning," said Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone. "The Patterson Institute provides an additional resource for our students at a time when there is a keen interest and growing need for more science, technology, engineering and math in public schools. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Caldwell County Schools will expand its STEM curriculum and capitalize on available grant funding with the scheduled opening of the new science center."
Besides daily use by students during the school year, the science center will accommodate young science enthusiasts in the summer months by offering summer enrichment camps for students. It will also be a center for teacher training and development on STEM curriculum, and teachers will participate in STEM hands-on activities to introduce in their own classroom.
The school district has currently secured
$225,000 in grant funding specifically designated for the Patterson Science Center and will continue to seek grant funds and develop partnerships with higher education in support of the science center. The Board of Education recently negotiated a lease agreement for eight years with the Patterson Foundation to rent and use three buildings (Stoney, Van Noppen and Hickory Hall) and the Patterson grounds.
"With 1,400 acres of unspoiled land - now one big science lab filled with streams, a pond, fresh air, and trails - think of all that we can do in this outdoor classroom," said Stone.
The program will have access to most of the scenic 1,400 acres at Patterson to incorporate science and nature studies. "We are very excited about this partnership, and I suspect Samuel Legerwood (Patterson) is smiling from Heaven with us to have this project on his property," said Patterson School Foundation board member Janet H. Spoon. "After all, he was a scientist of sorts, having been the North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture."
Students throughout the district will have the opportunity to explore beyond the classroom and become engaged in experiential science, a direct first-person experience with the content and processes of science. As the program unfolds, the Board of Education will consider the possibilities of developing the Patterson Center into a regional science center in an effort to share resources and invite surrounding counties to participate in a new STEM learning environment and to become more familiar with the nature and beauty of Caldwell County.