Finding New Ways to Teach a Hands-On STEM Curriculum

CCSD Staff 2 - 9/28/2020 1:20:00 PM

Earlier this year, Dana Letts, CCSD STEM specialist, was recognized by Ohio STEM Learning Center as the winner of their 2020 STEM Leadership Award. This award is well-deserved, as Letts does everything from creating STEM-related programs, establishing community partnerships and writing STEM curriculum, to supporting CCSD principals, designing and leading professional development opportunities for staff, pursuing funding, and presenting sessions about STEM to local groups and businesses.

“I am extremely proud to be recognized at this level,” said Letts. “I feel that this affirms that what we are doing at Chillicothe City Schools is at the cutting edge of education.”

Letts hasn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic slow her down. In fact, she’s embracing it as an opportunity to reimagine almost every aspect of how STEM instruction is provided to students. This includes the adoption of new technology into everyday learning for both in-person and Virtual Learning Academy (VLA) students.

The addition of technology into instruction gives students more of a voice in their learning. For example, Letts and the other STEM staff have introduced a new element to the curriculum: Integrated Career Exploration (ICE) modules. This online, interactive tool allows students to explore STEM careers, including entomology, marine biology, botany, professional sports and other subjects at their own pace. ICE not only shows how STEM lessons directly tie into the real world, but also enables students to start thinking about what career path they may one day choose to pursue.

Letts has ensured that students participating in online learning are not left out of the hands-on STEM curriculum. On top of their access to the ICE modules, VLA students have access to engineering choice boards and will be given the chance to do in-person STEM lessons, if their family chooses.

“These in-person outings will be led by STEM facilitators in our local parks,” said Letts. “The expeditions will be a great option for our VLA students to experience the same activities as our in-person learning students with increased social distancing.”

To help with the transition to a socially distanced and virtual STEM curriculum, long-time CCSD teacher, Amber Good, is the newest CIS STEM facilitator. While Good will primarily work with grades 3-6, she will also lead some units and expeditions for K-2 this year.

Letts and the rest of the STEM staff look forward to incorporating technology into this year’s curriculum to ensure CCSD students get the top-notch STEM education the district is known for.

If you have any questions about the 2020-2021 school year STEM program, please contact Dana Letts at