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Making the Grade: Idaho schools lead the way in STEM education

Posted: 7:12 PM, Dec 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-17 00:55:44-05

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is now home to four nationally certified STEM schools. It's no secret, future jobs need students who are equipped with stem education - science, technology, engineering and math. Galileo and Barbara Morgan, both West Ada schools, were recently nationally accredited for their advanced STEM programs along with two schools from Eastern Idaho.

Step inside Galileo Stem Academy and you will find it bustling with hands on educational activities.

“Seeing kids explore and create and challenge themselves to try new things is something I think we are most proud of here," says Principal Rob Lamb.

Galileo opened twelve years ago. It's the only Kindergarten through 8th grade school in the West Ada District. Administrators see their STEM focus as a way to support any career path.

“Being able to use evidence to support your thinking and to use inquiry to try and find solutions to problems, those things span whatever field you might want to go into," says Lamb.

Criteria for becoming a certified STEM school does not just take place inside the walls of the school. To be nationally accredited, a STEM school must show support from parents and the community. That’s where Galileo’s PTA helped out.

“We are just really blessed to have a lot of business oriented families who live here. And when you reached out to those parents, engineers, scientists, they were what do I have to do? When do I have to here? Yes, what do you need from us to help get this certification and keep it going," says PTA President Brenda Morgan.

Being STEM certified, means Galileo is eligible for grants to build its program. Other schools are taking notice, coming to visit to figure out how to establish their own curriculum.

“Anybody can do this. It's Popsicle sticks and dominoes. Anybody can do this. The kids love it and they just become these little makers and their minds just go wild here," says elementary engineering teacher Gina Kwid.

Galileo educators say the key is for everyone to have a "just try" attitude. That philosophy certainly seemed to work in helping Galileo get certified and lead the way in Idaho's stem education.