PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – A recent press release from Phenix City Schools announced that every school in the district received STEM certification from Cognia in June. PCS is the largest school district in the country to achieve this during any month, according to the release.

Cognia states on its website, https://www.cognia.org, that its STEM certification program “guides leaders with a specific framework and improvement process, culminating in recognition for programs that demonstrate a strong and effective STEM focus.”

It states that it identified its standards through “research and extensive observations” and that its standards “focus on characteristics like problem-based experiential learning and the integration of STEM thinking into a broad range of activities and learning opportunities.”

According to the press release, PCS’s certification indicates that its STEM program “promotes scientific inquiry and engineering design,” “develops skill sets that transfer across career sectors,” “bolsters students’ capacity for critical thinking and perseverance through complex tasks” and “engages students in ways that connect learning to the real world.”

“The initiative to become STEM Certified, system-wide, was the work and achievement of many educators in our system,” said PCS Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Rachael Peters. “It was a rigorous process and I’m proud of the administrators, teachers and staff that worked towards this goal. PCS will continue to find ways to support its students and their academic successes.”

The press release says this announcement was made at PCS’s recent 2022 Institute meeting, which Jeff Langham, regional director for Alabama at Cognia; Jeff Wooten, senior director for the southeast at Cognia; and Mark Quintana, vice president and global services director of Cognia attended. Gov. Kay Ivey recognized PCS for its achievement with a governor’s commendation.

PCS has STEM activities for students in preschool through the 12th grade. PCS elementary schools have Smartlabs, which students attend each day for half an hour.

“Students use advanced software and materials that highlight the skills needed to be a successful 21st century learner,” says the press release. “Student-centered learning is an important objective in the Smartlab. Students to take ownership of their learning and collaborate with others, problem solve, think critically, develop their creativity, and enhance communication skills.”

PCS middle schoolers attend classes in the Dyer Family STEM Center, where they engage in activities centered around engineering, coding, digital media, LEGO Education Robotics, and zSpace 3D virtual reality.

“High school students expand on previous STEM experiences and have the option to choose a pathway in the Career Technical Center, dual enrollment and Advanced Placement classes and over 40  STEM- focused clubs and organizations,” says the press release.

To learn more about PCS’s STEM programs and initiatives, email STEM Coordinator Brandi Laney at blaney@pcboe.net.