PC-TAG gift supports program for students in grades five to eight
Thanks to a $10,000 gift from the Park Cities Talented and Gifted (PC-TAG) parent organization, robotics in Highland Park ISD won’t be just for the high school students much longer.
McCulloch Intermediate and Highland Park Middle School will use the funds to begin offering a comprehensive robotics program with classroom and extracurricular activities in engineering and coding.
The science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) grant also provides instruction and resources for a fifth-grade science unit in electrical circuits.
I think we are so lucky to have our fifth-through eighth-graders all in one building because they come in as young 10-year-olds and leave us ready for the high school.Jean Streepey
“(PC-TAG) supports families of students who are identified for gifted services, but they support lots of our innovative programming, and they often propose or look for ways to support our teachers in the classrooms doing any kind of innovative instructional practices,” said MIS principal Skip Moran. “Chris (Miller, HPMS principal) and I with Jean (Streepey, STEAM instructional coach for MIS and HPMS) were able to just do some brainstorming, work with some of our campus leadership, and really identify that engineering and robotics was an area where we wanted to think about what some programming with that would look like.”
Streepey said the grant funded the purchase of equipment – including the VEX IQ robotics system for the fifth and sixth graders and V5 for the upper grades – and allows the campus to align more closely with what the high school offers.
“We’ll have all that equipment ordered over the summer so that when the school year starts up in August, we’ll begin introducing those robotics programs into our fifth and sixth-grade science classes, and hopefully maybe some after-school and extracurricular activities,” Moran said.
Miller said the middle school is adding at least two sections of engineering classes next school year.
“I think the partnership came together at a great time,” he said. “I think it really will build across MIS to the middle school, and even though this is strictly an MIS/middle school grant, the high school will feel the benefits of this, I believe.”
Streepey also hopes the program helps create an entry point for students in fifth-eighth grades to pursue their interests in engineering and robotics.
“I think we are so lucky to have our fifth-through eighth-graders all in one building because they come in as young 10-year-olds and leave us ready for the high school,” she said. “And we can create a pathway for them that is vertically aligned so that when they have these experiences, and they love it, there’s a path for them to pursue those interests.”
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