Woodland Hills School District awarded federal partnership to expand STEAM education

WILKINS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The Woodland Hills School District is the first in the state to be awarded a new federal partnership that will give kids in all grades the chance to learn more about computer science and technology.

The smiles and collaboration in the third-grade classroom Channel 11 visited almost made it look like the kids weren’t learning, but it’s actually the opposite.

“If you think about Woodland Hills, you think about two things, you think about football and their music program,” said Jason McKenna, the vice president of Global Educational Strategy Vex Robotics. “We want you to think about a third, the STEAM education.”

STEAM was not a part of the curriculum in the district until last year, and now, students get to learn hands-on every day.

“There is a very low percentage of females in this field as well as minorities and we have a high percentage of minorities in our school district. When those children are not exposed to the material, they don’t really know it’s out there,” explained Tina Dietrich, the STEAM director for the district.

Woodland Hills is the first Pennsylvania city and only the seventh in the nation to join the national program, “CS For All,” which means computer science for all.

The goal of the partnership is to bring STEAM and computer science programming education to every student in the district.

“Part of CS For All is partnering with the community and the University of Pittsburgh. What I would like to see is partnering our high school students with the program down there,” Dietrich said.

“I remember a little girl said I didn’t know I could be an engineer but now that I’ve done this that’s what I want to be,” said McKenna.

Woodland Hills joins five other cities in this program, including Atlanta and Phoenix. As these partnerships grow, the teachers can share ideas and ways to implement new resources with each other.

The program is a two-year commitment.

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