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STEM "Breakthrough" highlighted by GOAL Digital Academy

At GOAL Digital Academy, we understand that offering STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) programs in an online setting presents unique challenges, from ensuring hands-on, interactive learning experiences to fostering collaboration in a digital space. However, we've successfully bridged this gap through innovative solutions and a commitment to educational excellence. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and platforms, we've created both virtual and in-person experiences, and simulations that allow students to engage in experiments and projects. Our synchronous and asynchronous teaching methods ensure that students have the flexibility to learn at their own pace while still benefiting from real-time interaction with teachers and peers. Our emphasis on project-based learning and partnerships with our talented staff members provides practical experience and mentorship opportunities, making STEM subjects not only accessible but truly immersive and engaging. At GOAL Digital Academy, the challenges of online STEM education have been transformed into opportunities for innovation, setting our students on the path to success in the digital age.

"Our mission at GOAL Digital Academy is to equip students with the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world," said Tish Jenkins, Superintendent of GOAL Digital Academy. "By incorporating STEM projects into our programming, we are taking a giant leap forward in fulfilling that mission. Our students will not only learn the theory behind STEM subjects but will also engage in hands-on projects that solve real-world problems."

Kitchen Science with K2, a team of Science teachers at GOAL Digital Academy brings the wonder of science right into the kitchen, proving that learning can be both engaging and deliciously fun. Our monthly live lessons, led by Kyleigh Holtsberry and Kelly Crosby, aim to make science tangible for students by utilizing common household items, demonstrating that scientific principles are at play in their everyday lives. From crafting foaming jack-o-lanterns in October that illustrated a chemical reaction to churning homemade butter in November, showcasing the science of emulsions, the experiments are designed to spark curiosity and joy in learning. December's lesson on creating bioplastic ornaments highlighted eco-friendly alternatives to traditional plastics, while January's bread-making session taught the biological process of yeast fermentation, culminating in a delightful bread and butter party. The dynamic duo “K2” is planning future events for GOAL students:

March: Pin-Hole Projectors for the 2024 Solar Eclipse

April: Special Live Lesson for the Solar Eclipse

The Robotics Club at GOAL has become an immense success under the guidance of Keith Willis, exploring the complexities of drivetrains and fundamental robotics principles. Over the year, students have engaged with various robots, from claw bots manipulating objects to catapult bots launching buckyballs, alongside their unique experimental projects. With monthly challenges for practical application, the club recently delved into programming for autonomous operations and expanded the learning to include sensor technologies like inertial, distance, and optical sensors. These advancements have prepared them for tasks such as object avoidance and path correction. March marks the culmination of the Robotics Club activities, with a final challenge testing students' coding, driving skills, and strategic cooperation with an alliance partner controlling another robot. Additionally, students from the Robotics Club and Computer Science class are invited to volunteer at the VEX State Competition in Marion, Ohio. This provides an opportunity for community service and a chance to witness top competitors from the state, enhancing their educational journey and hands-on experience in robotics.

"By investing in STEM education, we are investing in our students' futures," added Keith Willis. "We are excited to see where this journey takes us and how our students will use their education to make a difference in the world. I hope that next year we continue to build the program and eventually field a VEX robotics competitive team or two and maybe even host a tournament of our own at one of the local labs.”

Middle school teacher, Mike Galleher, is redefining the concept of field trips at GOAL Digital Academy by leveraging technology to bring real-world experiences directly into the virtual classroom. Recently, he guided his students on a virtual exploration of the Orton Geological Museum located on The Ohio State University campus, enriching their understanding of earth sciences through the museum's extensive collection. Mike is not stopping there; he's working to schedule a session at the Neil Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta, aiming to inspire his students with the wonders of space exploration and aviation history. Additionally, Mike innovatively transformed the Morrow County Fair Week into a unique learning opportunity. By live streaming from the fair, he brought agricultural science to life for his students. From showcasing his sheep in the barn, exploring various livestock shows, and interviewing a member of the Morrow County Historical Society at a historic log cabin, Mike provided his students with a comprehensive look at rural life, history, and agriculture. These efforts reflect Mike's dedication to providing engaging, educational content beyond the conventional classroom setting, offering his students a window to the world's vast educational opportunities in Science and Social Studies.

The Math Department is planning various activities to foster student engagement and support STEM initiatives within our learning labs. To enhance the learning experience, a new Context-Based Instruction (CBI) integrated Math track is being developed. This approach aims to provide students with practical, real-world applications of mathematical concepts, thereby deepening their understanding and appreciation of mathematics. The department is delving into research on mastery learning, a strategy designed to ensure that all students acquire a deep understanding of mathematical principles before moving on to more complex topics. In addition to academic initiatives, we are introducing a creative mathematical outlet for students through the formation of an origami club. This club not only provides a relaxing and enjoyable environment but also illustrates the fascinating connection between mathematics and art. Lastly, the department is organizing a variety of fun and educational activities to celebrate Pi Day, promoting a sense of community and excitement around mathematics. Through these diverse efforts, the Math Department aims to inspire a lifelong passion for STEM subjects among students.

In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, leveraging technology in education is not just beneficial; it's essential for providing students with a well-rounded and relevant educational experience. Technology offers unparalleled access to information, resources, and learning opportunities that transcend traditional classroom boundaries. By integrating digital tools and platforms into our processes as educators, we can offer personalized learning experiences, catering to the diverse needs, learning styles, and interests of each student. Furthermore, technology equips students with the digital literacy and critical thinking skills they'll need to navigate and succeed in the 21st-century workforce bringing our STEM opportunities to life.

GOAL Digital Academy is a pioneering online school that offers a comprehensive K-12 education to students across Ohio. With a focus on personalized learning, cutting-edge technology, and student success, GOAL Digital Academy is dedicated to preparing students for the challenges and opportunities of the future.

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