During spring break of 2018, Eaton Rapids Public Schools got some good news. After a lengthy process of researching and grant writing, the Dart Foundation selected Eaton Rapids to be the recipient of a $125,000 grant. The money will be used to implement a science and technology curriculum called IQWST (Investigating and Questioning the World through Science and Technology).
Dart Foundation Manager Emily Matthews approached the Eaton Rapids school board in spring of 2017. According to Superintendent Bill DeFrance, the foundation was looking to expand its grant opportunities for local schools.
“The foundation approached us. That says a lot about the Dart Foundation,” said DeFrance regarding Dart’s commitment to aiding local schools.
Following Matthews’ recommendation, the school board allotted time at one of their annual retreats to discuss the possibilities and opportunities if the schools were to receive one of the foundation’s grants. DeFrance noted that the board thoroughly discussed many of the schools’ needs, and he’s confident they identified one area with the greatest need for investment and growth.
In today’s age of non-stop technological updates, it’s ever more important to train and equip students with a firm grasp of the sciences. Superintendent DeFrance and the Eaton Rapids school board recognized this need and saw the need at the Middle School.
“We felt science was pretty rich and diverse in the high school, but we need to make learning experiences more engaging in the middle school. We haven’t had that much diversification at the middle school,” said DeFrance.
While DeFrance is proud of the teachers and classes the middle school offers, like the industrial arts class that gives students more hands on experience with tools and physics, he believes IQWST will be a step forward for the junior high. IQWST was developed over several years by science education specialists from MSU, U of M, and Northwestern. According to DeFrance, the IQWST curriculum will give middle school students more opportunities for hands on experience with new technologies and practical applications of course material.
Kim Gum, an Eaton Rapids Middle School science teacher, taught the IQWST pilot course during the 2017-2018 school year. DeFrance expressed his immense gratitude for Gum’s work, noting that the success of IQWST will largely ride on her successes with the pilot program.
DeFrance said the school board held a small celebration after the spring break news. The grant, the largest Eaton Rapids Schools has every received, and the implementation of IQWST is a big step forward for the Greyhound schools.
“What we’ve tried to do is make learning in the middle school more active,” said DeFrance. “We wouldn’t have this opportunity if the Dart Foundation hadn’t approached us.”