Investment adds to STEM labs in OKC schools

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From left, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation Senior Vice President Joe Rossow, Wheeler Middle School Principal Deserae Jackson, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel, Devon Energy President and CEO Rick Muncrief, Wheeler Instructional Coach McKenzie Hodge and OKCPS Foundation President and CEO Mary Mélon-Tully celebrate with kids from Wheeler Middle School after the official opening this week of the school’s new mobile STEM lab.
(Courtesy photo)

Oklahoma City middle school students will get some hands-on experience with aerial drones, robots and other high-tech tools designed to fire young imaginations following investments made in local schools by Devon Energy and the Cal Ripken, Jr. Foundation.

Back in 2019, the Baltimore-based foundation and Oklahoma City-based Devon agreed to partner to provide mobile science, technology, engineering, and math labs in local elementary schools. After meeting with success, they opted to continue to team and set a new goal of establishing mobile STEM labs in two fifth grade centers and in all 13 of Oklahoma City’s middle schools.

Success in reaching that goal was celebrated this week.

“Today is a monumental day in the history of OKCPS,” Superintendent Sean McDaniel said during a gathering of educators, students, and supporters at Wheeler Middle School. “Now, students graduating from elementary school will be able to extend their STEM education and have access to new tools designed for their growing minds. The district is truly grateful for the continued support and generosity from Devon and the Ripken Foundation.”

Even as McDaniel and other adults were there, Wheeler students launched into checking out Tello Boost aerial drones, Snap Circuits useful in learning about electronics and circuitry, and Sphero Bolt robots that’ll help them figure out coding.

OKCPS Foundation President Mary Mélon-Tully said the STEM labs will benefit not only students but also the city and state by exposing youngsters to technologies shaping the future.

“We know getting kids involved in STEM education early and often positively impacts their professional success and our future workforce needs,” she said.

Ripken Foundation President Steve Salem agreed.

“These mobile STEM labs will give middle school students the equipment they need to explore different scientific areas and achieve their full potential,” he said.

Added Rick Muncrief, president and CEO of Devon: “Devon wants to inspire future STEM leaders to build confidence and expand their creativity throughout their academic careers. By continuing to invest in these children as they move from elementary school to middle school, we’re helping them further develop their critical thinking skills and instill a lifelong love of scientific learning.”

According to the release, Devon and the Ripken Foundation have installed more than 100 STEM centers at schools in Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

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