May 10, 2019

School Bus Will Be Transformed into Classroom

Talawanda High School plans to expand its out-of-the-classroom education with a new STEM bus to help bring science, technology, engineering and math studies out into the district.

The project started with Joan Stidham, Talawanda High School’s director of teaching and learning. After she retires this school year, Lindsey Gregg will be replacing her and plans to finish the project.

Talawanda’s STEM bus program is being modeled after Sycamore School District’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) bus program. Photo courtesy of Karen Naber of Sycamore School District.

The bus, donated by Petermann Ltd., a Cincinnati-based school bus operator, will be equipped with Ipad’s, Chromebooks, TV’s, and many other tools to teach children the value of STEM -- and art, Gregg said.

The activities on the bus, will be similar to what students have at school for building, coding, engineering, science, math activities and manipulatives. But the bus is projected to operate after school two to three days a week, and on select weekends.  Snacks and homework help will also be available, said Stidham. This will provide extended time with the materials found at school, but more importantly bringing these and additional supports into the communities where students live, Stidham said.

Gregg said she plans to park the bus “wherever we can find a spot for people to come to the advertised times. She said they are considering parking the bus in uptown Oxford, as well as in outlying communities within the Talawanda district, such as Summerville.

The inside of the bus will be outfitted with teaching and demonstration stations for science, technology, engineering and math, similar to this one used by Sycamore High School. Photo courtesy of Karen Naber of Sycamore School District.

The bus is being constructed with donations and volunteers. It will take about $60,000 to completely repurpose and outfit the vehicle, Stidham said.  

High school art students plan to paint it and students from Butler Tech will do the necessary welding and fabricating of the educational stations inside. Teachers from the high school will handle the educational programs once the bus is on the road. Talawanda plans have the bus up and running by January 2020, said Gregg.

“It’s strictly a volunteer thing, we have instructional leaders and coaches, a stem coordinator, so we foresee our curriculum team of volunteers of teachers leading the charge on this” Gregg said.

The school plans to target the age group of K-5th graders, but all students interested in the activities will be welcome to participate, Gregg said.

Gregg said the Talawanda bus was inspired by a similar project at Sycamore High School in suburban Cincinnati.

In addition to its mobile work, Sycamore occasionally incorporates the bus into the in-school  curriculum by parking it outside the school during regular school hours and allowing classes to come aboard and be taught around the bus’ activities, Gregg said. She said Talawanda may do that too after first seeing how well the bus does away from the school.