ST1.10: Community, post-secondary, and business/industry partners and/or families actively support and are engaged with teachers and students in the STEM program.

Bates Middle School maintains numerous community, post-secondary, and business partners that meet frequently and regularly collaborate with teachers and learners in the STEM program to support and sustain a STEM pipeline. These partners help us to reach and expand our STEM Goals :

To increase student achievement by…

  1. Increasing student interest, participation, and achievement in STEM.
  2. Expanding student access to effective STEM instruction.
  3. Building community awareness and partnership support for STEM. (Link to SMART Goals)

Our community and local businesses support our program through sharing their expertise with our students, facilitating field trips to their facilities, holding STEM related events, and providing funding. Our town of Sumter through The Link Lee and Sumter County Economic Alliance holds an eSTEAM festival yearly beginning in 2018. The purpose of eSTEAM Sumter is to expose festival participants to advances and opportunities in these ever-growing areas through interactive exhibits, fun-filled displays, and hands-on activities. It brings together Educational Entities, Industries, Economic and Community Developers and STEM Organizations. Each year Bates is sponsored to have a tent at this festival to showcase our STEM program. Our community also holds the Sumter County Manufacturing and Career Expo annually for our 8th grade students to showcase the advancements in modern manufacturing and technology and our 7th grade students attend the Sumter School District Education and Career Ready Summit. Community and business support also comes in numerous outreach programs they provide to our school. Individual teachers also utilize community partners, especially for project-based learning activities. For example, our Dog Character Class has partnered with a local veterinarian who visits the class to facilitate lessons and give expert feedback. We also receive financial and product support through grants for our programs and classrooms.

Bates is supported by a professional network through the TransformSC network. TransformSC, an education initiative of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, is a collaboration of business leaders, educators, students, parents, and policymakers transforming the public education system so that every student graduates prepared for careers, college, and citizenship.

Bates holds numerous family outreach events that our families attend to engage in our STEM program. We have hands-on family nights, informational parent nights, and post monthly Take Home Family STEM activities on our school Facebook page. Each year, parents serve on our STEM Advisory Board and our School Improvement Council (SIC).

Our STEM Advisory Board meets twice a year to access the school’s progress in the development of our STEM program and to make recommendations on moving forward. This board consists of faculty from two of our secondary education partners, Central Carolina Technical College and USC-Sumter, members of the faculty of our district Career and Technology Center, business and community members, parents; and our school STEM team.

Our School Improvement Council (SIC) is a broad-based body intended to advise the principal and school, and is focused on helping to achieve school improvement. Parents, teachers,and community member representatives serve on an SIC, as do the school’s principal and other ex-officio members. This council issues a yearly “SIC Report to the Parents”.

Our STEM pipeline begins with our elementary feeder schools, two of which are also seeking STEM accreditation. They have added a STEM class in their related arts rotations. We participate in Wilder Elementary’s Family STEM night by providing hands-on activities run by our student STEM Ambassadors and our staff. We also began a physics outreach in the Spring of 2019 in which our 8th grade students lead 4th grade students in physics activities. This program will be expanded in the Spring of 2020 to include all of the 4th graders in the district and will be held at USC-Sumter, one of our local colleges. This pipeline continues to our partnership with Sumter High School through our Next Level Program and our outreach program with the Sumter Career and Technology Center. This outreach includes their partnership in our NASA Family STEM Night and student hands-on tours of their programs. Staff from the Sumter Career and Technology Center also serve on our STEM Advisory Board. Our district has established a district STEM Cohort of schools seeking STEM accreditation to provide for school collaboration and support of STEM programs from the district level.

We have formed partnerships with several of our local colleges. We began a partnership with physics professor Dr.Chang at the University of South Carolina – Sumter campus during the 2018-2019 school year. Dr. Chang comes twice a month to our school to facilitate physics lesson with all of our 8th grade students. She was our opening speaker and a presenter at our NASA Family STEM night. This relationship continues during the 2019-2020 school year with the bi-monthly lessons and her assistance in planning our physics outreach to the 4th graders in our district in April 2020. Dr. Chang also serves on our STEM Advisory Board. USC-Sumter offers summer STEM camps in which students can enroll. Students can apply for scholarships.

We began forming a partnership with Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC) in April 2019. To kick off this partnership for the 2019-2020 school year staff from CCTC and Bates met in August 2019 for an interdisciplinary planning session. Partnerships and outreach programs were formed. One program is a partnership between the BioBantams student club and the CCTC Natural Resource Management Center. Students will go on a field study each semester at the facility led by CCTC instructor, Joshua Castleberry. Another program involves a 3-D modeling and design course that CCTC will facilitate at Bates each semester. This class is facilitated by CCTC engineering students and allows our students’ instruction in AutoCad software. The CCTC English Department is working with our school English and Social Studies Department in instructing students in the ability to adequately research topics and properly cite scholarly sources. CCTC also agreed to assist the departments with STEM problem based and project based learning projects from novel studies that will be covered during the year. Lisa Bracken, Vice President of Student Affairs, joined our STEM Advisory Board for the 2019-2020 school year.

Clemson University supports STEM programs throughout the state with free outreach programs such as the EXPLORE mobile lab. This program is a partnership between Clemson and Duke Energy that brings a mobile engineering lab to the school. The lab visited Bates in September 2019. All of our 6th graders engaged in “Bridge the Gap”, a lesson that utilizes the engineering design process to build bridges. Our 8th grade Algebra 1 students engaged in the activity “How Do You Weight Up” Both of these activities were facilitated by Clemson Professor of Engineering, Jorge Rodriguez. Clemson also offers a summer program for rising 7th and 8th grade girls in engineering and math each summer. Students can apply for scholarships.

Our strength lies in the ability to provide multiple STEM opportunities for community, post‐secondary, and business/industry partners and/or families to be actively engaged with teachers and students in the STEM program. Overall, we are working to build stronger connections in the community, in particular in terms of bringing in experts who can assist students with their STEM learning and provide valuable expert feedback. Students need more experience in presenting and defending their thinking to authentic audiences.