Harrison County School officials working to prepare STEAM Center, promote fun learning

May 13, 2018

CLARKSBURG — Officials at the Harrison County Board of Education are continuing to work on building a STEAM Center to provide more opportunities for students and teachers throughout the county.

Secondary Curriculum Coordinator Grant Spencer said when the school board inherited the building last year, there were cubicles with partitions in the room. They removed those, stripped the carpet and painted everything.

“We ordered 50 tables and have 200 chairs, all on casters, so we are able to move things. We wanted a flexible space,” he said. “I knew I wanted to be able to have the AP exams there, so I wanted to make sure we had enough tables and chairs to do those.”

Eventually the computer lab will be filled with about 30 computer stations, Spencer said. School officials hope to offer classes to teach Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint training for the public.

“We want to especially open those trainings to the senior citizens from the senior center,” he said. “We’ll also have a mobile iPad cart to put in there where they can learn to work with the touchscreens.”

Spencer noted it’s important for officials to be able to maintain a level of flexibility with the room so it can be used for a wide variety of events. Right now, they are housing Ozbot robots, as well as virtual reality equipment.

“I hope to order an actual competition level gaming table for robotics so they can actually compete here,” he said. “I hope to have middle school teams come practice and maybe have a competition, even if it’s just within the county.”

They are also working to get a display table, like a table in chemistry class with the mirror above to show what’s happening, for the science lab that can be wheeled around as needed.

“We are looking into getting some soft seating like bean bags so little kids can be more comfortable and it’ll be more colorful,” he said. “There’s a big room in the back for a meeting room. I’m hoping to get some soft seating and a TV there. We have space for a kitchen with a sink. We’re looking to put a stove and fridge back there.”

Spencer said all of those plans looks to be coming together over the next year. They are working with companies to look at prices and hoping to make some decisions.

Todd Poole, supervisor of technology and information for Harrison County, said it’s still a work in progress, but officials have a great vision for the STEAM Center. The purpose is to create a place where teachers can bring their students for a trip and learn by doing hands-on activities.

“We can travel with some of the things, but the idea is to bring people here,” he said. “A lot of the students don’t get to go anywhere, so we wanted to be able to incorporate elements of a science center and bring them here.”

Poole said they are working to build a library of activities to span all grade levels, which takes a little bit of time. They have iPads, Sphero robots and virtual reality goggles that have already been used.

The STEAM Center also includes a variety of materials like blocks, building games and games for fun.

“The vision is for kids to come here and spend the morning or afternoon,” Poole said. “It’s a way to get out of the building and be able to stretch out a little bit, and do some things that are a little more hands-on.”