By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — A $10,000 grant from Merck Pharmaceuticals will add additional hands-on technology classes to Liberty Valley Intermediate School this year.
“Merck’s been very supportive and forthcoming with funds,” said Chris Johns, principal of Liberty Valley.
The grant, which the school applied for last year, will help add more courses that follow the STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, initiative.
Previously, only fifth-graders at the school had a STEM course, but now STEM curriculum will be added to the school’s remaining fourth and third-grade classes.
The third-grade course will focus on water, buoyancy and volume, the fourth-grade class on structure, with the core topic being the Empire State Building, and fifth-grade will learn about aerospace engineering, culminating in the students building their own flyable model plane.
The STEM courses will divide the school year up into trimesters, with one focusing on social studies, another on science and the third on the STEM curriculum.
The STEM material will differ from traditional science courses in that it will be more hands-on, said Johns, whereas the science trimester will center on learning the scientific method.
“Our STEM curriculum is really literature based,” added Johns, in that students will be reading novels and other reading material related to their grade’s topic.
The fourth and fifth-grade courses will start with the school year, said Johns, while the third-grade unit will begin in October.
The grant should cover the materials needed for one grade level, said Johns. He did not have a total cost off-hand for the entire Liberty Valley STEM program.
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