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CCPS to roll out STEM bus

Clark County Public Schools will be taking science on the road next month.

School officials met Tuesday with representatives of NOMI, the architectural and design company that is remodeling one of the county’s school buses to become a learning tool that will be available to every school in the district.

The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) bus is expected to roll out in mid-March, said Greg Hollon, the school district’s chief academic officer and assistant superintendent.

Hollon and Superintendent Paul Christy gave the school board a rundown on the STEM bus at its last meeting and talked about it in interviews Tuesday after the meeting with the contractor.

“This is huge,” Christy said. It will be a big deal for the kids and a “stepping stone for us to move forward in the STEM program here.”

The bus is one of only three or four STEM buses in the state.

It’s going to be a mobile classroom, Hollon said, but also an outdoor classroom because it has an automated awning that comes out from the bus, and the cabinets and equipment inside are detachable and can be brought outside. There will be a window under the awning through which a teacher can communicate with students.

“This component, once spring gets here, is going to be very handy from a social distancing aspect,” Hollon said.

A few students at a time will be able to rotate through the bus, while others are outside under the awning.

The bus will be heated and air-conditioned, and there will be a lift on the back to make it accessible to those in wheelchairs and to move the detachable cabinets in and out of the bus.

Hollon said there will be panels inside the bus allowing students to learn about such subjects as the atom, the human body, the tallest buildings and mountains in the world, dinosaurs, what lives in the depths of the oceans and our solar system.

The ceiling of the bus will show the constellations of the northern hemisphere, and they will be lighted, so that different constellations can be switched on and off.

One of the technology and engineering components, Hollon said, will be transparent walls that allow students to see how some components of how the bus operates.

“It’s going to be a clear, see-through wall, and they’re going to be labeled as to what they are and what they do,” he said.

“The tops of the cabinets are going to be basically whiteboards,” so the students can write on them, Hollon said.

The students will have iPad minis, and there will be a TV on the bus that can be used with the computer tablets, and “they will be able to send their images up to that monitor,” he said.

The bus will have USB ports as well as regular electrical outlets.

“We will be able to take this into the community at any time,” Hollon said. “It has WiFi capabilities, up to about a hundred feet or a little more,” he said. “It’s not going to be reliant upon anything surrounding it to provide that.”

The exterior design of the bus will be a wrap, and school officials wanted to make sure that it was something that would appeal to students of all ages, from kindergärtners to high school seniors.

An image on one side will have a Clark County Cardinal looking into a telescope, on the other side, into a microscope.

“That’s one of the things we tried to do, was make it universal, so it works with all grade levels,” Hollon said.

“We can take it as a learning tool into our community, but we can also make it a part of our school system at each of the schools,” Hollon said.

He said it can even be taken to football games or other sporting events, so that during halftime, students can take parents onto the bus so they can see how their kids learn.

Hollon said the district intends to hire a STEM-certified teacher for the bus.

The bus project, Hollon said, is funded through the school district’s Title I grant.

Christy said he would like to have the bus ready to use by the time students return to full in-person learning, which is scheduled for March 15.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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