Student-scholars at Nautilus K–8 greeted Washington state Governor Jay Inslee with a warm welcome during his visit to Federal Way Public Schools on April 13, 2017.
Inslee reached out to Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell to learn more about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunities in FWPS, and to hear about Campbell’s vision to create a K-12 STEM region. This includes enhancing project-based learning opportunities at FWPS designated STEM lighthouse sites: Nautilus K–8, Woodmont K–8, and the expansion of TAF Academy to TAF@Saghalie.
Campbell shared with Inslee how the award-winning model of TAF Academy will continue to close gaps, increasing student achievement and post-secondary preparedness for more scholars with the TAF@Saghalie merger. Campbell shared she has reached out to state legislators to secure funding to update the labs at Saghalie Middle School in preparation for the additional STEM project-based learning needs of TAF@Saghalie.
Also discussed was the district’s expansion of STEM offerings such as robotics learning opportunities for all elementary schools in the next two years.
During the visit, Nautilus K–8 Principal Stacy Lucas shared how project-based learning is making a difference in the classrooms. She said, “Students enjoy the hands on learning and can articulate what they have learned and connect with the real world. We have seen a decrease in discipline as students are more engaged with project-based learning. “
Inslee visited multiple classrooms at Nautilus K–8 including Mr. Dan Haegele’s seventh grade science classroom where students learning about lego robotics were utilizing coding knowledge to operate the movements of robots. The governor surprised Haegele with the honor of “Washingtonian of the Day” for his extreme creativity in project-based learning.
Next on Inslee’s visit was Mrs. Kalie McFarlane’s third grade highly capable classroom, where he watched as students presented their projects to a panel of teachers, explaining the importance and need of their invention with confidence. One student presented a child-friendly fire alarm concept and her classmates used “plickers,” a technology tool to gather anonymous votes from students, to indicate whether they supported the student’s project.
In Ms. Elizabeth Borgmann’s classroom, Inslee listened as first grade scholars showed him their current projects, which included an egg-basket zipline and a pull-cart with eggs in place of traditional wheels. He then shared a creation of his own, reading a book that he and his wife wrote for their grandson titled, “Bears in the Boat.”
At the end of his visit, Inslee shared, “In our brief time here, we’ve seen some of the most creative, intelligent, confident students I’ve ever met, and it’s really encouraging.”
FWPS offers multiple STEM opportunities district-wide for scholars including the successful first annual STEM Exploration Night, high-quality curriculum infused with STEM content, hour of code activities, and more. Offering STEM experiences earlier and more frequently to scholars will help better prepare them to access high-demand, high-wage college and career pathways.