Caldwell Exempted Village School District is increasing enrollment in STEM electives, strengthening soft skills, and reinforcing student-centered learning by adopting a carefully created robotics and coding curriculum from Thimble.io.
Caldwell Exempted Village School District is making bold moves to bring rigorous and relevant STEM experiences and innovative curriculum to its more than 700 students. Putting a focus on STEM in every grade is giving way to increased retention, real-world connections, and a measurable jump in STEM engagement.
Modernizing programming and focusing on the future.
A panoramic view of the STEM experience at CEVSD shows just how multi-faceted their approach to science, technology, engineering, and math has become in recent years. Since the pandemic, CEVSD has worked tirelessly to revamp its CTE programs for junior high and high school students.
These efforts expand beyond the classroom walls. STEM projects are integrated daily during summer school. CEVSD’s after-school programs utilize STEM learning and hands-on projects at every opportunity. Workforce connections are being made through classroom experiences, discussions, and interactive field trips to STEM industry locations like Micro Machine Works. Students are getting hands-on experience with 21st-century skills like drone control, 3-D printing, coding, and robotics. CEVSD has even launched an Industrial Technology Club that serves students in both middle and high school.
CEVSD was the recipient of a 2022 STEM grant from TC Energy that was dedicated to providing STEM opportunities for students through investments in VEX robotics, Virtual Reality learning, and other STEM manipulatives and hardware.
Despite garnering multiple streams of STEM funding, finding a modern and affordable curriculum that aligns with district and state standards can be difficult. Kelli Wohlgamuth, Curriculum Director at Caldwell Exempted Village School District is tasked with making hard decisions regarding district-wide programming. Making curriculum choices that are relevant, and rigorous, but maintain student engagement isn’t easy. New programming and curriculum supplements can be difficult for teachers without a STEM/technology background to implement. After careful consideration, Wohlgamuth brought Thimble.io robotics kits and curriculum on board for CTE students for the 2021-2022 school year.
Empowering students with Thimble.io STEM curriculum.
Katrina Baker, a middle school CTE teacher at CEVSD is not your average educator. Her day never ends at 3:00, and her mind is constantly thinking about how she can reach her students in new and exciting ways. She is intentional about cultivating a student-centered environment and encourages her students to take ownership of their learning by coming to their own conclusions. She leans into professional development opportunities and looks for ways to perfect her craft. In short, there’s a reason she’s a nominee for the 2023 OAAE Outstanding Middle/Secondary Program award.
When Kelli Wohlagmuth handed over Thimble.io’s iconic orange kit to Mrs. Baker during the 2021-2022 school year, her students said it felt like Christmas morning. Thimble.io’s Creator kits looked fantastic, but with little to no coding background, Mrs. Baker wondered how easy this curriculum piece would be to implement in real-time. “I didn’t have any previous coding or robotics experience before I started using the Thimble.io kits. To have those step-by-step instructions was awesome. I’ve been able to use the Creator Set to learn to code myself.” Baker explained. Thimble.io provided training, support, and supplemental PowerPoints for each kit. Mrs. Baker is now a Thimble.io Certified Teacher.
“Thimble.io’s curriculum lends itself to my teaching style. These builds require students to step outside their comfort zones, think for themselves, walk through the steps of the project, and troubleshoot failures.” Baker says after watching her students navigate through the 12 projects in Thimble.io’s Creator Kits.
She quickly recognized Thimble.io’s ability to reach every type of learner. Read/write learners are able to read a written description of each step of the build. Visual learners are benefitting from the pictures and diagrams that accompany each step of the build in Thimble.io’s Learning Portal. Kinesthetic learners are truly learning by doing, and auditory learners are hearing Mrs. Baker’s instructions.
Near the end of the school year, Mrs. Baker hosts “Thimble.io Friday” events in her CTE classroom. Students are encouraged to explore and create by tinkering with Thimble.io’s high-quality, reusable components. They can come up with their own robotics gadgets and personalized code, or simply experience their favorite builds again. These moments of creative freedom are granting Caldwell’s students vital STEM confidence and stoking the fires of innovation.
Caldwell’s CTE classes experience a 40% increase in student engagement in a single school year.
Thimble.io’s kits, coupled with CEVSD’s supercharged approach to STEM, are making a big impact– especially at the middle school level. Students are displaying renewed excitement for STEM learning. Mrs. Baker’s CTE class alone has seen a 40% increase in enrollment. As a student choice elective, the district had to put a cap on her classes to maintain its responsible student-teacher ratio.
Problem-solving and critical thinking skills shine as students troubleshoot errors in their coding sequences. They are working on communication with each other and their teacher. They are learning firsthand how failures can actually be teaching tools. “I can see a huge difference. They are coming to their own conclusions as independent thinkers rather than asking to be ‘spoon-fed’ the answers. Everything in this world is ‘instant’. They need to learn that sometimes they have to actually work to get to the answer. Having a product like Thimble.io helps enhance those soft skills that they really need,” shared Mrs. Baker. “Those skills will translate to any task they want to do in life.”
To find out how Thimble.io’s carefully curated STEM programming can support your district’s curriculum plan, schedule a curriculum demo with our STEM experts.