Excitement continues to build at Mineral Point Elementary over the Project Lead the Way program, thanks most recently to a large grant received from Cummins Emission Solutions as part of its Community Development Grant program.

In addition, the district has received word that a small group of Mineral Point Elementary students, along with teachers Judy Benish and Livia Doyle, have been selected to represent the Project Lead the Way program at the Wisconsin State Education Convention Wednesday, January 21 in Milwaukee.

Announcements regarding both of these newsworthy items were made at an all-school assembly Friday morning, January 9.

Through Project Lead the Way, students become problem solvers. They use structured approaches like the engineering design process and scientific method, and employ critical thinking. They apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) knowledge, skills, and habits of mind, learning that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes. As teachers and students learn and discover together, education becomes far more engaging. 

“Project Lead the Way at the elementary level is a natural fit for our school and community,” said teacher Livia Doyle.  “Our young students are eager to explore and ask questions.  They want to be challenged in ways that are engaging and hands-on.  Involving students at a young age in STEM activities builds confidence, grows interest, and puts them on course for strong accomplishments in middle school, high school, and beyond.” 

Students at the assembly Friday described Project Lead the Way as “fun,” “a great learning experience,” and “exciting” and “hands-on.” 

This $21,616.50 grant will build upon the existing program to personalize the experience for each child.

Last school year was the pilot for the program and assigned 4-5 students to use one VEX kit, which is a robotic kit that is made up of modular parts that allows students to design and create an almost infinite number of different robots. Project Lead the Way recommends two students to each VEX kit. Additionally, the elementary uses iPad mobile devices to complete the 12 modules annually. Project Lead the Way recommends a ratio of one iPad for each pair of students. The grant will help purchase more of the necessary supplies so more students can be engaged at the same time at the recommended ratio.

Prior to involvement at the elementary, Cummins has also been instrumental in assisting the high school with their Project Lead the Way program through a grant spread out over the past three years.

“We have had great success at the high school, and I am excited to build on what we have started here,” said Dennis Horn of Cummins. “I would also like to add the excitement we have to continue the strong partnership that we have formed over the years. I look forward to the great possibilities that lie ahead.”

Employees at Cummins will be coming into the school to assist students with their projects.  Students presented the employees Friday morning with signed Thank You cards from each grade level.

“Last year I attended a recognition ceremony where the Department of Public Instruction awarded Cummins with the distinguished honor of being recognized as one of five industry leaders that have committed to partnering with schools,” said Mineral Point Superintendent Luke Francois. “Cummins continues in this same tradition and I am simply amazed at how well the company takes pride in the community in which it resides, as well as in learning for children in its area. I want to personally thank Dennis Horn and his leadership team for shepherding this grant effort on behalf of Mineral Point Elementary.”

For the 94th annual State Education Convention, Mineral Point Elementary is among 14 other districts that were chosen from a field of nominations state wide to be highlighted at this event.

“A direct result of Cummins’ efforts finds Mineral Point sharing Project Lead the Way for elementary students with school board members across the state of Wisconsin next week,” said Francois. “As only one of a dozen schools across the country implementing the project in year one, it is safe to say that Mineral Point Elementary is leading the nation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum.” 

“This conference presents an excellent opportunity to showcase the wonderful things that are going on the field of STEM education,” said Mineral Point Elementary Principal Brad Brogley. “Congratulations on this well-deserved accomplishment.”

(Article and photos by Joelle Doye)