A sophomore geometry class at Rockhurst High School is collaborating to solve a difficult problem with a method that's part of a new learning approach at the school.
Rockhurst calls these classrooms active learning spaces where students, like Jacob Sykes, focus on group learning instead of traditional front-facing desks.
"You have your average classroom with like 30 stationary desks close together. Then you have another class that's more engaging," Sykes said.
It's part of what Rockhurst calls a STEAM program which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math - all in a more comfortable learning space.
"About a third of our classrooms look like this, where they're moving around. Like science tells us, it's important to move during class," STEAM director Greg Owsley said.
Students have free periods, and, in the classroom, teachers move throughout the room working with the students.
"The role of the teacher is moving from a stage to more of a guide on the side in these active learning classrooms, that's happening," Owsley said.
Many classes also incorporate tech literacy to prepare for a modern workforce.
"We're evolving from writing with pen and paper to writing on an iPad. It's letting you become more in tune with technology," Sykes said.
The school has been building the program up over the past few years with financial help from Mike Brown, a Rockhurst graduate and CEO of the tech company Euronet.
"I see it firsthand that it's hard for companies, like ourselves, because there are not enough local people being educated. So how do you get people ready for the workforce?" Brown said.
Rockhurst also wants to help other schools implement similar classroom concepts which Sykes says helped him get accepted to Harvard.
"If you come in here to better yourself, you'll better yourself," he said.
Rockhurst is also hosting a STEAM conference for area schools coming up in March.
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