Every teacher at Kathryn Winn is a ‘STEM’ teacher

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At Kathryn Winn Primary School, every teacher is a STEM teacher. Principal Gerda Wise said that her teachers are trying a new approach to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which is referred to as STEM.  Every teacher has developed an engaging lesson on a particular concept in the STEM curriculum, and on certain “STEM Days” students will rotate through several teachers’ classrooms to participate in a variety of lessons in their grade.

“We wanted our teachers to become experts in certain areas so that they could continue to improve one lesson that they adjust to students at different learning levels rather than come up with several lessons geared toward one class,” said Gerda Wise, principal of Kathryn Winn Primary. “The schedule is a little complicated, but we do what’s best for kids.”

Wise said that Winn is implementing “STEM Days,” in addition to the regular science curriculum taught by Gail Becraft. Also, Lynn Stucker, who previously taught technology is teaching Engineering is Elementary (EIE), a hands-on curriculum that integrates not only science and technology, but also engineering, mathematics, and literacy.

The curriculum, devised by the Museum of Science, Boston, was introduced to the Carroll County School District through a partnership between the University of Louisville Speed School of Engineering, North American Stainless, and Dow Corning.

Wise said that representatives from Dow Corning and Gallatin Steel are meeting on a regular basis to plan STEM activities with teachers.

“The kids love it,” said Stucker, referring to the engaging STEM activities. “They are really enjoying exploring different possibilities, being curious, and finding many different answers to the same problem.”

Stucker said that in a recent Engineering is Elementary (EIE) activity, students had to design solar ovens that could also be recycled.

Given a shoe box, plastic, felt, aluminum foil, shredded paper, and Styrofoam, they had to figure out how to line the inside of their shoe box in a way that would hold enough heat to melt chocolate for s’mores.

“The students realized that although Styrofoam was a good insulator, it was not a very ‘green’ product,” Stucker said. 

Science teacher Gail Becraft is also teaching her students about the importance of environmental stewardship through recycling, not only of paper, plastic, and aluminum, but also of cafeteria food.

Kathryn Winn Primary is turning trash into treasure with the help of its Green Team, which includes 40,000 red wiggler earth worms.

The Green Team, made up of two student representatives from each class, recycles nearly every bit of trash created at the school, including all leftover bread, fruit, and vegetables, which the worms eat in the school’s vermicomposting system.

Green Team members wear bright yellow-green aprons and yellow rubber gloves during breakfast and lunch, helping students sort out the table scraps from their plates in different categories.

Plastics and unused paper are placed in separate containers. Table scraps suitable for composting are saved, and the rest is discarded.

On Thursdays, the Green Team picks up recyclables, which the school district’s maintenance department takes to Arkema’s recycling center.


Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Schools.