Turlock Jr. High School to Launch STEM Program

David Fransen

Turlock Junior High School (TJHS) will become the first school in the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) to launch a highly acclaimed ‘STEM’ program – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math –  beginning in the 2013/2014 school year.

“We believe that it is on the cutting edge of education,” stated TJHS Principal Dave Kline. “The job market is centered around STEM and we want our students to be ready.”

While there are a few STEM clubs offered in the surrounding area, TJHS will be the first to offer the program during a regular school day. The program will be integrated into the school’s curriculum over the course of three years, with the program being offered as an elective course for seventh grade students in the first year.

Kline said the program will look to partner with California State University, Stanislaus students and faculty. The model follows that of a school in Los Banos which offers a similar STEM program, based on a partnership with CSU Fresno.

STEM has become a key component of education in the United States over the last decade, as many expanding career fields rely on science, technology, engineering and math knowledge. The goal of the TJHS program is to ensure students are well prepared for industries related to these fields of study.

TJHS staff have been holding parent nights for students entering the seventh grade next year to explain the STEM program, and encourage students to join. However, students must understand that it is a rigorous elective which will require extra work after school and on weekends as well. Students who apply for the elective will also need to submit their California Standardized Test, English Language Arts, and math scores to ensure that  students are ready for the extensive material and work.

Material in the program will include robotic science, including Lego robotic competitions, as well as agricultural science, problem solving with creative solutions, technology research and experiments, and other STEM curriculum that is relevant to students’ interests.

“I don’t think you’re going to have a problem getting kids involved,” said TUSD Trustee Frank Lima. “It looks like a great program, and a great educational opportunity.”

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