The halls of Caverna High School were buzzing last Tuesday, April 17 as the doors opened to welcome members of the community surrounding the school system to spotlight and celebrate the accomplishments of students and their plans for the future.
The Cave Collaborative Showcase of Innovation and Deeper Learning brought in students from elementary to high school grade levels and allowed them to share the skills they are experimenting with and refining in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).
With members of the community welcomed in, the day was a celebration of education and community. In recent years over $200,000 in grants have been provided to Caverna Independent Schools (CIS) by the Dart Foundation, making many dreams of staff and students alike a reality. The doors were opened to appreciate that no goal is achieved alone, but in involvement within and outside of the school building to make innovative thinking and deeper learning happen.
“Deeper learning goes beyond English and Math, in addition our kids are collaborating, problem solving, communicating, thinking, and designing, those are important life skills too,” said Caverna High School principal Chase Goff.
After remarks from Emily Matthews, Dart Foundation Manager, Matt Forbes, Dart Plant Manager in Horse Cave, and staff members, attendees were divided and led by student ambassadors to tour designated areas.
This past year marked the opening of the Industrial Maintenance classroom in CHS, offering students from Caverna and Hart County certification in electrical mechanics and maintenance repair. Last Tuesday, Dart employees and other business representatives were given a live example of just what students are learning by witnessing students using a 3-D printer, setting up an assembly line process through their laptops and into small machines, operating hydraulic systems, and more.
The tour also featured the Biomedical Classroom, where students learn to work with equipment found in medical labs, and develop skills, such as, aseptic technique, bacterial plating and identification, micropipetting, EKG analysis, bloodwork analysis, and much more. For guests, students worked together in small groups to prepare presentations to display the knowledge they were gaining. For example, students ran their EKGs to explain the process of analyzing, took blood pressure, and created models to demonstrate how the heart works as a pump.
One project in the works, the STEAM Shop, began functioning this year as a space filled with resources for minds to think and create. Over the past year various classes have used the space for acting, solving global problems, and creating mousetrap cars to race. Plans are in action to finish the space over the summer and train teachers to best utilize the space.
“The sky is the limit. Anything they can think, they can create and make,” said Goff. “It’s important to include all content areas, because it is important for a holistic student.”
Dual credit chemistry students showcased some of their experiments over the year, including making Aspirin and face cream. Even students not interested in pursuing chemistry were provided the opportunity to learn with engaging experiments, while gaining credit hours to put them ahead in higher education.
Finally, the gymnasium was dedicated to student projects and events taking place inside and outside of the classroom. Topics from the environment to art to music to school safety to learning to robotics to virtual reality were showcased. And all were shared with great passion.
One student passionately spoke of his work, 3-D printing lockdown doorstops for each elementary classroom, while others, just as passionately, discussed the opportunities in the classroom opened to them to see the world through Google Expeditions Virtual Reality kit, building and fixing their own robots to battle, and much more.
Many projects were showcased at STLP competitions as well. Beginning only three years ago at CIS STLP has grown from 10 to 40 competitors from Caverna, with students eagerly taking in the competition every year to see how they can improve their work.
“There is a renewed focus. It has shifted the focus onto each individual to realize their potential leadership, individual skills and talents, and inspire with hands on opportunities, and to provide an environment where they come to school and feel engaged. We couldn’t do any of it without local businesses and their partnership. The community can feel the buzz here, and we’re seeing things happen,” said Amanda Abell, Assistant Superintendent for CIS.
The buzz was very much alive in the evident passion and excitement in the faces and speeches of students, but also in the engagement of community guests to celebrate and take part in their successes.