Driving Education and Fueling Student Minds
The La Porte County Public Library is adding a mobile classroom! Over the last several years LPCPL has developed a close partnership with our county school corporations called Libraries 360. LPCPL’s Libraries 360 service includes library cards for 1,271 teachers and 15,685 students. This makes it possible for students and teachers to have direct access to public library resources for enhanced learning.
The Library’s seven buildings are incorporated into school technology plans as part of our school student access to Wi-Fi for eLearning. The Library also partners with schools to provide lessons in science and social studies. LPCPL staff provides teachers with professional development in the use of technology in the classroom. All of these services were developed with direct input from teachers, media specialists and school administration. Their participation is critical to the success of Libraries 360 because they are the experts in curriculum requirements.
As Libraries 360 has grown, there was a shift in education to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) instruction to better prepare students for 21st-century jobs. So as this shift occurred, the Library began to think about ways in which we could further develop services to students and teachers based on STEAM education. We also heard repeatedly that the local industry is not able to find enough workforce with the required skills to fill jobs. This is how the idea of the mobile classroom came to be.
The LPCPL mobile classroom will provide students with learning opportunities that tie directly into local workforce needs. On our mobile classroom, students will gain insight into the wide variety of skills required for today’s workforce through hands-on learning.
This will help students make better-informed decisions on career pathways with the knowledge they gain about many different kinds of jobs and how the skills they learn can be applied in the workplace. Educators and parents will be able to help students make better-informed decisions about their future. Employers will acquire a local workforce to meet their needs which will positively impact the health and quality of life here in La Porte County.
In the first year of service, the mobile lab lessons and experiences will target students in grades 7-8. Teachers will receive professional instruction from library staff to implement pre-lessons with students prior to mobile lab visits. All students in grades 7-8 will participate in mobile lab visits that include hands-on lessons in order to expose students to math, engineering, science, and technology. In the following two years grades 3 through 6 will be added.
Another goal of the service is to increase community awareness of the skills needed by students to fill jobs. To meet this goal, the lab will be present at community fairs, festivals, and family days at local manufacturing companies.
The Library was fortunate enough to have funding for the vehicle through the generosity of several private donors. Funding for the technology and equipment needed for the classroom is being provided by Howmet Aerospace Foundation in the amount of $50,000. Howmet Aerospace Foundation supports programs that help prepare the 21st-century engineering and advanced manufacturing workforce. Howmet Aerospace Foundation initiatives make quality STEAM education opportunities available to students. For more information, visit www.ArconicFoundation.com. This new partnership with the La Porte County Public Library will enable the purchase of equipment that will drive the development of the STEAM lessons to bridge the divide between the school, student, and employer.