The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) program at Hopkins Middle School (Hopkins) has concluded its second year in partnership with EngenuitySC. The school, part of the Lower Richland cluster in Richland County School District One, has seen a huge increase in students’ interest in STEAM classes and programming since the partnership began nearly two years ago.
“We were blown away by the students, teachers and this partnership as a whole,” said Meghan Hickman, Executive Director of EngenuitySC. “The LifeCycle, Jr program at Hopkins was a spin-off from a companion program at Lower Richland High School. Thanks to visionary school leaders and tremendous District support, we are able to work with community partners to provide hands-on, problem-based learning and leadership experiences in middle school that students can carry with them to high school and beyond.”
The highlight of the year for the Hopkins STEAM program was its LifeCycle Jr. Sustainability Showcase, held February 21. The LifeCycle Jr. program is a literal circle of life that involves composting cafeteria food waste which is then processed via vermiculture – the use of worms to decompose organic matter – which in turn creates nutrient-rich soil in which to plant, grow and harvest fruits and vegetables. The “Jr.” stems from this particular program being the “little brother” of the original LifeCycle program at Lower Richland High School.
At the Showcase, students in the program were able to show off the “fruits” of their labor and led sessions on growing winter vs. summer vegetables, soil testing, composting, and vermiculture. Attendees even got to taste some of the harvested fruits and vegetables from the garden, providing a tangible reward to hard work.
“At Hopkins Middle School, we’re making real world connections for students about how their food is produced and harvested with our very own garden,” said school Principal Bobbie Hartwell. “We’re enabling students to learn about soil testing, composting and vermiculture and giving them an opportunity to maintain and take ownership of the garden. This is enabling our students to develop world class skills as defined by the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.”
All students participated in the STEAM-inspired club programming this year, and more than 20 had the opportunity to be focused on the LifeCycle Jr. project.
The school recently released a video that showcases the LifeCycle Jr. program and its processes, complete with student and teachers’ points of view on the program and its benefits. (See video at http://engenuitysc.com/hopkins
In addition to Hopkins Middle School, EngenuitySC is also partnered with Lower Richland High School and Southeast Middle School in Richland County School District One. The initial partnership, which originated with LRHS, began in 2013.
EngenuitySC is proud to partner with three schools in Richland County School District One, including Lower Richland High, Hopkins Middle and Southeast Middle Schools. Since the partnership commenced in June 2013, EngenuitySC has focused on exposing students, teachers and parents to the opportunities associated with STEM careers. Thanks to collaboration with industry, higher education and community partners, EngenuitySC has helped bring hands-on STEAM experiences, soft skills development and entrepreneurial activities into the halls of all three schools.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., EngenuitySC is an economic development nonprofit focused on enhancing our region’s competitiveness and prosperity. In partnership with business, government, education and community leaders, EngenuitySC specializes in regional collaboration and project management, the activation of local industry clusters and regional research, analysis and marketing. For more information, visit http://www.engenuitysc.com.