Jemison Intermediate rewards students with outdoor STEM classroom

What's Right With Our Schools: Investing in STEM at Jemison Intermediate School

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Some school leaders in Chilton County are making a major investment in STEM Education.

Principal D.J. Nix says he wants his nearly 600 4th, 5th and 6th grade students at Jemison Intermediate to have the best and believes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education is the way to go.

The school is celebrating improvements on their state report card from a score of 80 last year to 83 now.

He gives some of the credit to giving students an outlet to play outside in a field. While, that sounds simple, the field he's talking about used to be full of gravel and rocks.

“Our vision four years ago, was an outdoor classroom but before we could get the outdoor classroom we had to get the field completed," Nix says.

Right now The Outdoor Discovery Center currently houses an herb garden, a human-sized chess board, a solar powered hydroponics unit, and six raised garden beds funded by one of Governor Ivey’s Bicentennial Grants.

The plan is to add a tree identification trail, wildlife observation station, a digital/analog weather station, a birding trail, and pavilion, that will become possible because of a donation from the state representative Jimmy Martin who passed away earlier this year.

That pavilion, will provide a shaded area for learning and hands-on activities. All of this will supplement what happens indoors in the classroom and their new STEM lab. That field is and will be central to future academic gains for students.

95% of students at Jemison intermediate receive free or reduced lunch, indicating many of the students are living in poverty.

“That’s a number that doesn’t mean anything to me because they are great parents and just because you are free and reduced doesn’t mean you are going to be free and reduced at Jemison Intermediate,” Nix says.

On top of this, Nix says his staff is pursuing STEM certification with hopes of making it official in the spring.

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