Governor visits middle school’s STEM labs |

Governor visits middle school’s STEM labs

Steve Ranson
Churchill County Middle School students Angelo Van, left, and Patrick Morales (both seated) work on their STEM project. Looking on, from left, are Churchill County School District trustee Matt Hyde, trustee Greg Koenig, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Superintendent Sandra Sheldon.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a big supporter of education since he took office in 2011, has made frequent trips to visit Churchill County schools.

He has visited the charter school, Oasis Academy, and toured the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) labs at Numa Elementary School.

Sandoval spoke at the Churchill County High School graduation in 2014 as the keynote speaker.

Recently, the governor toured the STEM labs at Churchill County Middle School to meet students and talk to school district personnel. Sandoval had attended another event in Fallon earlier in the day.

“He had asked to tour a school, and I mentioned (to his staff) we had a STEM lab at the middle school,” said Dr. Sandra Sheldon, Churchill County School District superintendent. “His scheduler said he would be very interested in it.”

Once at CCMS, Sandoval visited two labs, one for the sixth grade and the other for seventh and eighth grades. At each stop, he engaged the students as they told him about their projects and how they were achieving their goals.

Angleo Van and Patrick Morales were two eighth-grade students working on a project that turned on a robot to the sound of clapping.

“I thought it was pretty cool he wanted to learn more about it,” Van said of the governor’s interest. “I was kind of nervous when he came over. I never saw a governor before, and it was exciting for him to see us working on it.”

When the governor visited them in their STEM lab, Morales said he and Van were troubleshooting a problem. Finally, Van fixed the conductor, which supplied electricity from a battery to the Robot. Morales said the governor looked pleased at their accomplishment.

“I was very astonished and honored to meet a man of such high ranking,” Morales said.

The governor said the students seem to enjoy the STEM labs.

“I like to see the kids and how innovative they are,” Sandoval said. “I applaud the school district in getting ahead with the technology.”

Sheldon said the governor has a way to interact with the students.

“He has an interest with the kids at heart and really believes in education,” Sheldon said. “He is a big supporter of it.”

With changes coming to the school district, Sheldon said the STEM labs will adjust to the grades. From kindergarten to third grade, she said students will learn from reading and expand their knowledge, while fourth and fifth grades will focus on project-based learning and how the STEM labs incorporate to what they are doing.

CCMS Principal Scott Meihack said its important for schools to provide different channels of thought for students such as STEM labs.

“They (STEM labs) require creativity and for them to think outside the box,” he said.

Meihack said it was also important for the governor to see how specific educational programs are coming to fruition for students. Meihack said the governor, during his statewide visits to the schools, sees the need for more resources for education.

“People need to understand if we truly value education and have a passion for learning, there can’t be acceptance for no funding,” Meihack said.