M-P board members get a taste of Scale Up Awards

By Molly Roberts
Posted 10/14/21

Mid-Prairie School Board members and administrators got a taste of the Scale Up Awards received by the Mid-Prairie Home School Assistance Program at their regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 11 when they …

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M-P board members get a taste of Scale Up Awards

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Mid-Prairie School Board members and administrators got a taste of the Scale Up Awards received by the Mid-Prairie Home School Assistance Program at their regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 11 when they cultured the bottom of their shoe to see what bacteria is growing there.

“Scale Up Awards are offered through the governor’s STEM advisory council,” said Home School Director Rachel Kerns. “They have a menu that they send out every year to districts and you can apply for the awards. We did apply for three this year and we did receive all three. These are district-level awards so they can go into any of the buildings if there are needs or opportunities to use them.”

The M-P Home School Assistance Program received the Ioponics, Code Joy and Project Lead the Way Medical Detectives awards.

The Ioponics (Iowa and aquaponics) award includes fish and their habitat.

“Most importantly for me, the passion behind this award that I chose to apply for goes right along with my passion for growing things and doing things with the greenhouse,” said HSAP teacher Laura Mallory. “This allows me to do things year-round and inside the school for all. This allows students to be involved in a variety of ways, whether its in the plants growing or a student who painted the background [for the tank]. Some of the students donated decorations for inside the aquarium. All of our elementary kiddos love voting for the fish names… it’s engagement for all K-12 and all of our families.”

Code Joy incorporates coding skills with building items out of cardboard and making them move. Mallory said she is mostly working with middle school students now but hopes to start working with younger students to start coding at a younger age.

Project Lead the Way Medical Detectives is an award that provides materials and resources for students to explore the medical world.

“I am everything science so this award really gets my interest and gets me going,” said HSAP teacher Crystal Gingerich. “This award teaches students to collect and analyze data, to measure and interpret vital signs, explore the human nervous system and to become familiar with different parts of the brain through a sheep dissection, which we will be doing here in a couple weeks. We will dissect two different sheep brains, one that’s healthy and one that has been given a fake tumor and they need to figure out what part of the brain it is and what part of the nervous system it affects.”

Gingerich said 68 students in grades 4-6 are currently involved with the medical detectives program, which is an 8-week course. The award was for over $3,500, allowing the students to work with a large variety of materials to feed their interest in medicine.

“One of the things that happens with the Scale Up Awards is they’re really trying to find authentic experiences for the kids,” Kerns said. “We use real PPE, we use real science tools, we use real authentic resources for our students. We’re not trying to mimic lab supplies, we’re giving real equipment that the kids get to use and explore.”

The school board members and administrators donned a full set of PPE — aprons, goggles and gloves — and then swabbed the bottom of their shoe to collect bacteria, which was transferred to a petri dish containing agar, where the bacteria will grow. In about a week Gingerich will send photos of what the cultures look like.

The school board members commended Kerns, Mallory, Gingerich and the HSAP staff for putting the work in to apply for the Scale Up Awards and finding ways to use the awards to reach as many students as possible.

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