Once a math lab (No, that’s not a typo!), then a broadcasting studio for football games, the big RV owned by Scranton School District has been renovated again.
Now it’s called the S.T.E.A.M. Mobile (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), and its new goal is to park outside of a different elementary school each day, bringing a new level of interactive education to the district’s 11 elementary schools.
Erin Keating, the district’s Supervisor of Elementary Education, is especially excited about it. “If we can catch them young, we want to get that interest going so we can build that through their academic career. It’s so hands on.”
And the RV is certainly designed to be inspiring. Brightly painted in a way that may remind us of Ms. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus, it’s filled with stations where students can work alone or in teams with microscopes, 3D printers, robotics, or alternative energy methods. There are plans to mount a weather monitoring station outside, and what used to be the luggage compartment below the floor now has a big magnetic train set.
Teachers from the school district have begun designing lesson plans to utilize the RV’s many opportunities during the rest of the school year. So far, only third- through fifth-graders will be using it, but teachers at the district’s middle and high schools are itching to get their hands on it as well.
“It’s just the beginning,” says Joe Brazil, science teacher, the district’s information technology director, and the instigator behind the S.T.E.A.M. Mobile. “This will be a great foundation.”
The total cost for the project is between $15,000 and $20,000, coming out of the district’s information tech budget. So far, there are no doubts that it has been a sound investment.