ELKINS PARK – Change is on the horizon for Cheltenham School District, which stands to benefit greatly from grant funds implementing STEM-based learning in the classroom.
The Cheltenham School District is set to receive around $600,000 through a partnership with Fluxspace, an educational technology startup based in Norristown, according to Superintendent Brian Scriven.
“I really think it’s all about timing and relationships,” Scriven told MediaNews Group, as he said teachers often come to Fluxspace for inspiration and to use the meeting space.
Still in its infancy, funds for the STEM-based initiative are expected to provide furniture, technology, equipment and professional development opportunities to set up a STEM learning lab in each of the seven schools in the school district. Cheltenham School District educates approximately 4,300 students.
The Norristown startup, affiliated with furniture supplier Corbett Inc., received more than $2 million from Montgomery County American Rescue Plan Act funds for the initiative. The nearby Norristown Area School District is also a partner in the project.
At a school board meeting in September, Superintendent Christopher Dormer said the Norristown-based educational technology start-up offers “field trip” type excursions that allow students to learn more about STEM-based concepts while experiencing learning labs and esports.
“We’re at a phase where right now thinking outside the box, and just being able to create spaces where not only students and teachers can be thought partners,” Scriven said. “That’s what really excites us about this opportunity… (and we’re) just thrilled to know it’s in the works.”
On-site visits to each school will give educators, administrators, and entrepreneurs a better sense of each school’s needs and how best to implement strategies for a more modern learning experience.
“It’s moving away from the traditional 10 desks in a row, five rows deep, to having spaces where you encourage student talk when you encourage teachers to be the facilitator of learning,” Scriven said. “It needs to reflect how classrooms are actually set up, and as we look at different learning modalities, we recognize that not all students learn in the same way.”
“Going forward, our learning spaces need to reflect that as well, and I really believe that is part of what this grant will be able to allow us to match the ideology … to the real spaces in which our students and teachers deliver. curriculum and pedagogy,” he continued.
Scriven said he looks forward to embarking on this journey and cultivating “pilot” programs to better understand potential long-term learning solutions.
“We look at how we’re going to do things, and then the key question becomes sustainability in terms of the future,” he said. “How can we take this to a larger scale and be able to sustain it?”