ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. — Some eighth-graders in Rockingham County are learning the basics of matter. They make up a fraction of Rockingham County students who are getting a boost in STEM related learning.
"The hardest thing is getting that child to have the confidence that they can do it," said superintendent Dr. Rodney Shotwell.
Dr. Shotwell says a $325,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation will help students like Telashia Blaze get the resources and encouragement needed to excel in STEM.
"I'm kind of like a visual learner and tactile because if I just read it out loud, I tend to forget sometimes so if I do an experiment, it will like stick in my head," said Blaze.
Blaze said her love for science will help her in her career aspirations of becoming a cosmetologist. District leaders hope other students will follow her lead in taking an interest in STEM related careers, especially young women and minorities.
"I think that the gender stereotypes sometimes prevent our young ladies from having the courage to take sometimes the higher math classes, the stronger science classes," said Shotwell.
Thanks to the grant, their are more science kits in classrooms which will provide more hands on learning. Leaders say the grant also gives teachers professional development opportunities so they will be better equipped to motivate students.
"It begins with us in K-12," said Dr. Nakia Hardy, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "We have to make sure that teachers have the resources, they encourage students. And If we can provide that encouragement and motivation, then students are going to be more likely to pursue those fields."
The district hopes he new STEM initiative will impact kids on all grade levels. It hopes to make the biggest impact on grades four through nine.
"I feel like one of the results is going to be that students are more successful in science and math classes and they are going to be motivated to be more successful," said Hardy.