The Kingsport Times News in effect posed that question to the five people seeking three at-large seats on the Kingsport Board of Education. Below are the answers they gave to that second of five questions addressing education issues in the Model City. Their responses to the other questions will be presented over the next three days.
STEM has grown increasingly popular and widespread in secondary school systems over the past decade or so.
Are you satisfied with Dobyns-Bennett High School’s STEM curriculum? Why or why not?
Julie Brinker Byers
I am impressed with Dobyns-Bennett’s STEM Curriculum. Having children that have been or currently are in the STEM program, I see how well they do on AP tests and the ACT/SAT/PSAT. While my husband and I are both chemists, we know they do not get their accelerated STEM success from us. It comes from the opportunities they are given and the challenges presented at D-B. As I look at their friends and the successes they are having with the Robotics program (world competition in Houston) and Science Olympiad (competed at the state level), I can honestly say STEM seems successful. I would like to add in the “A” component to make it STEAM since the ART factor is also very impressive. The band won the national championship in their class. The orchestra, band and chorus all received superior ratings at recent music festivals and competitions and state music award. The ceramics class has made bowls for the community soup for supper events while artists have won state competitions. As a parent, I am impressed with how much we embrace STEM. As a hopeful board member, I want continued success and challenges enabling growth to meet the increasing demands of the future.
Yes, as D-B EXCEL was one of 15 schools to earn the state’s STEM school designation in 2018. With their special programs for Robotics, Science Olympics and STREAMWORKS, Kingsport City Schools and Dobyns-Bennett are state & national leaders in the STEM program. Kingsport has shown their dedication to these programs with the new “front face” of Dobyns-Bennett for these programs also.
Liv H. Detwiler
It is clear that Kingsport prioritizes STEM education given our award-winning robotics teams, MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education), and the new Regional Science and Technology Center (RSTC). However, in conversing with community members, I understand more can be done with collaboration between fields. I believe that we can enrich the student STEM experience by providing opportunities to see how different sciences, math, and even the humanities can complement each other. I encourage increasing incentives for teachers to team-teach, at all grade levels, combining these complementary disciplines. We also need to expand in areas that are critical to workforce development (aerospace, health systems, IT, and advanced manufacturing) in order to support our career-bound graduates. One area where I see the need for growth is computer programming. The RSTC can help cater to more “interprofessional” collaboration between fields, and it also can provide space to celebrate the arts. It is critical in today’s world to keep up with the trends in STEM education, but we need to continue to instill an appreciation of the arts and excellent competence in humanities and foreign languages to ensure that our students are well-rounded and able to compete in both the local and global markets.
I could not be more proud of the work and success of current and previous students achieving their aspirations in this field and the staff supporting them. With the opening of Streamworks, we have created a strategic, dynamic partnership with local technology-minded companies and KCS. As a result, our STEM curriculum would rival that of any school in the state or the country. D-B is the only high school in the world working in partnership with Woods Hole Oceanography Institute (The MIT of Oceanography). D-B is the only high school in Tennessee to have placed 1st and 2nd place in their regional robotics competition and is now attending the Worlds Competition in Houston. D-B/D-B-Excel is the only high school in Tennessee to have two MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) teams compete at Worlds Competition in 2018. Kingsport is the first city in Tennessee to host the MATE Worlds Competition June 2019. The NASA sponsored program will bring over a thousand visitors from all over the world to our city. These are just a few of the many accomplishments coming from our STEM system.
The entire Kingsport City Schools system, inclusive of Dobyns-Bennett, continues to make great strides in improving STEM opportunities for our students. I have been amazed with just how many and how varied the opportunities are for our students to better engage with science, technology, engineering and math in exploratory phases as well as in career and post-secondary preparation. The introduction of laptops in upper elementary grades and the opportunities to learn and apply coding at the middle school level establish a strong fundamental core for advanced STEM opportunities at Dobyns-Bennett and Dobyns-Bennett Excel. The successes of competitive robotic and Science Olympiad teams are significant examples of just how strong these programs are. It is quite obvious that our children are entering a world dominated by data and scientific knowledge, and that much of the application across all disciplines was in its infancy just a generation ago. This is one area where I think we are currently ahead of the curve, but we will never be able to rest on previous laurels.