May 26: Student Reporting Labs and STEM

Spotlight on Schools: Student Reporting Lab and STEM

May 26, 2017 — Hello Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools! I’d like to take today’s spotlight time to talk about an incredible opportunity for our students who are part of the Student Reporting Lab. This is our connection to the National PBS Newshour that the wonderful Mrs. Julie Tiedens, high school English teacher, has fostered for years! Black River Falls Student Reporting Lab was chosen among only 21 other schools from around the nation.

Just last week four high school students traveled to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan to interview and record their pieces to contribute to the national project, sponsored by the Student Reporting Labs, on the national parks. The students were; Memphis Cleveland, Julie Peterson, Kianna Heller, and Kim Leadholm.

They traveled to the park, which is actually an island, as well as to Michigan Tech where they spoke to Dr. John Vucetich about the wolf population at the Isle Royale National Park.

This opportunity came about due to the PBS NewsHour’s focus on STEM reporting (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and the integration between these areas, is what STEM stands for, and is quickly becoming a primary focus in education.

PBS NewsHour’s STEM Student Reporting Labs were sent into their local national parks to produce unique stories from America’s canyons, craters and mountain peaks. The initiative is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The National Park Service centennial, and the goal of getting students outside, inspired this year’s STEM Student Reporting Labs theme. “We could see the students connecting to the Earth, deepening their connection with their reporting and visual storytelling.”

As a selected school we gained access to a journalism and digital media literacy curriculum augmented with a STEM literacy focus, a mentor from a local PBS affiliate, access to a STEM practitioner in a field related to their story, professional development for educators, and support from the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs team.

“National parks are some of the most amazing classrooms in the world,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “They bring to life the stories of the people, places, and events that have shaped our country. Programs such as these encourage exploration and inspire lifelong connections to the natural and cultural treasures found in national parks.”

One of our outstanding Student Reporting Lab journalists, Kim Leadholm, was also selected as one of twenty talented youth storytellers from 13 states that will convene in Washington, DC this summer with the common objective to advance the future of journalism and public media. What an incredible opportunity for Kim, and what an incredible credit to the opportunities provided to our students under Mrs. Tiedens instruction! Not to get political…but who wouldn’t love to see the world of journalism take steps in a positive direction?

In keeping with our routine of sharing some sunshine each week, I wanted to highlight a comment from our recent Graduate Survey that we administered. A graduate from 2003 had this to say when we asked: “What do you appreciate most about the District?” “ I appreciated getting to take classes at WTC my junior and senior year, by the time I graduated high school I already had a full semester worth of credits! It saved me money and built enough confidence that I knew I’d be successful in college!”

As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else within the District, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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