Wisconsin Public Radio: Wisconsin’s 11 tribes and the state Department of Public Instruction have been working on agreements to improve communication and educational outcomes for tribal youth. The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is the first tribe to reach an agreement with the state.
WXPR.org: Several Northwoods schools were winners at the 22nd annual Solar Olympics, held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The competition is sponsored by Wisconsin Public Service.
WPS spokesperson Matt Cullen outlines the competition…
“….Solar Olympics provide high school students throughout our service area with a fun, hands-on event to help reinforce what they’ve learned about a renewable source of energy. The high schools that participate are in our Solarwise for Schools program which provides lessons on renewable energy and maintenance of previously-installed solar systems. Of the 63 high schools within the service area, 53 are participants in the Solarwise for Schools program….”
200 students from 17 high schools in northeast and north central Wisconsin participated, using their solar inventions to power small machines and inspire artistic designs in 14 separate events. In keeping with Olympic tradition, the top three competitors in each event received gold, silver and bronze medals.
Gold medalists at this year’s Solar Olympics include:
• Solar Car Race: Tomahawk High School
• Solar T-Shirt Design: Lakeland Union High School
• Solar Art Challenge: Marinette, Mishicot and Lakeland Union High Schools (combined entry)
The Dunn County News: For Ryan Sterry it was about like playing with a video game or a remote control toy. But the Menomonie High School technical education teacher had a lot more in mind than fun and games as he used a controller to manipulate a robotic arm inside the Chippewa Valley Technical College Mobile Manufacturing Lab Tuesday, July 24.
The lab is coming to Menomonie High School in November, and is staying through January, thanks to a National Science Foundation (NSF) Smart Manufacturing and Resources for Transforming the Future (SMART Future) grant announced in June. Through the grant, CVTC will partner with four rural high schools, including Menomonie, to incorporate industrial automation and networking principles into the high school curriculum.
Sterry has been at the CVTC Manufacturing Education Center recently for training that will help him make the best of the high-tech equipment in the mobile lab.
“The lab is going to allow us to teach concepts that would be difficult to teach otherwise,” Sterry said. “We don’t have access to this equipment.”
“We’re bringing in our electromechanical trainers and the PLC (programmable logic control) trainers,” said Andrew Kott, the CVTC instructor who will work directly with students in the mobile lab. “We’re also going to bring Fanuc Robotics Arms. They’re Certified Educational Robotics Training (CERT) units.”
News Watch 12: Sparks flew in front of Valencia Carthen’s eyes, sparking inspiration to take back home.
“The first thing you learn as a brand new teacher is steal, steal, steal the best ideas,” Carthen said.
The Milwaukee Washington High School principal was getting ready to unpack her school district’s first fab lab equipment Friday. Thursday, she and 12 other Milwaukee Public Schools members checked out several Northwoods labs with 3D printers, laser engravers, and routers.
“I had a small idea, which I thought was a big idea, but just going on this tour… The sky’s the limit for these kids,” Carthen said.
The tour through Northland Pines, Three Lakes, and Florence happened after a conversation between State Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver. The two agreed small and big districts need to work together.
“A lot of times people think the rural schools just won’t have access to different resources, but they’ve shown us what they can do with what they have,” Dr. Driver said. “So, now my folks are going back and we’re all thinking like, OK, we can do this.”
State Representatives Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), and Felzkowski made a point of visiting Three Lakes. In 2014, it became the first K-12 district in the state to get a fab lab.
“This is where future education is heading,” Three Lakes senior Jack Connelly said.
Connelly and his team showed off their creation to lawmakers and school representatives. They also explained their goal of forming a business.
“I have no doubt in my mind that any student is capable of replicating what we’ve done here,” Connelly said. “The reason I know that is because I didn’t think I could do this six months ago.”
Since Three Lakes’ successful launch two and a half years ago, about 150 school districts statewide have built or signed on to build fab labs.
Antigo Daily Journal: A high tech fabrication laboratory that is the result of a private-public partnership is taking shape at Antigo High School.
The district is in the midst of developing a fab lab, small-scale workshops that offer rural schools and communities equipment that can be used for digital fabrication.
Our goals are to have the room ready by late spring, Principal Tom Zamzow said. Future plans include bringing all fifth-grade students through the lab, making the room available for high school personalized learning projects, and offering evening and day time hours for members of the community.
Development of the lab dates to elate 2015, when the board of education heard a presentation from Don Sidlowski, founder of Northwoods Broadband & Economic Development Coalition.
Sidlowski, of Three Lakes, was in the middle of a three-year initiative to install one of the units in each of Wisconsin’s eight Grow North counties—Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Oconto, Oneida and Vilas.
The idea was enthusiastically embraced by the board of education and the community. In the time since, there have been presentations, tours of other fab labs, and a room has been designated at the high school for the lab.
Price County Review: It may be the middle of winter, but for three Phillips residents, ideas are sprouting like spring’s first seedlings.
While it is currently buried under snow and ice, a brand new community garden rests on the eastern front lawn of the Phillips High School. Community members Eric Knudson, Marc Peterson, and Julie Olson are the organizing energy behind the garden, which will be planted for the first time this spring after snow melts. While yet unplanted, the garden has already been the focus of many volunteer hours and community involvement… and the trio hopes it will grow from here.
“We want to make something that is useful and something the community can be proud of,” said Knudson.
The garden has ten 4×12 raised beds, and the location offers the opportunity for expansion as community interest in the garden grows. The garden’s organizers are currently investigating the possibility of writing grants down the road to help with expanding the garden’s use to the community.
“We think this will be substantial enough to be able to provide produce to community, the school lunch program, and even the local food pantries eventually,” said Olson. “Our overarching goal is to provide fresh produce for community members who don’t have it for whatever reason – be it a lack of space, finances, knowledge… Whatever it may be, they can have the opportunity to come and help with the garden.”
Price County Review: Improving workplace morale and building a positive presence in the community has been the aim of Phillips School District’s culture-climate project over the last three years.
The initiative, titled Creating Community Connections, was first introduced in August 2013 at the school’s in-service day. While formerly just for teachers and support staff, the in-service day now encompasses all staff, and has seen nearly 100 percent participation in all three years.
Numerous studies indicate that improving employee and community relations within a school district can actually improve the education offered to students. While other school districts in the state do engage in culture-climate improvement activities, the majority of these do not connect back to the local community as does the Phillips series of activities.
Phillips’ culture-climate improvement activities are designed to bring all staff together in varying projects, facilitating a forum for those who would not ordinarily meet or communicate in their normal workday. Understanding of the other jobs and who does them is encouraged to promote a greater communication and respect amongst all staff.
The first stage of the initiative brings all staff together on the first in-service day in August, where group activities take place. The second stage of the culture-climate activities continues throughout the school year, as staff members come up with activities to engage in. This stage is purely voluntary – employees may choose whether or not to participate. Participation rates have remained high, either at 100 percent or just below.
This year, many staff members will be spotted around the community participating in a variety of events. Staff planned and engaged in events ranging from ice fishing tournaments to baking contests.
The aim of this year’s activities? Improving communication.
WJFW.com: Forty-year-old ash trees line Highway 13 entering Phillips from the south. But these same trees are at risk of the deadly emerald ash borer.
EAB hit the city of Rhinelander in fall 2014, making Oneida County the first county in the Northwoods with the pest. Price County has yet to find the beetle, but naturalists in Phillips are planning ahead.
Phillips has offered people the chance to adopt and care for ash trees in town, and the town is also looking into using chemicals to protect some of its most important trees. Meanwhile, the city has been removing ash trees that are already weak, sick, or dying.
“We’ve been taking those out, probably 10, 12, 15 trees a year,” said Phillips Tree Committee chair Marjory Brzeskiewicz. “We don’t have a huge ash population as far as numbers of trees, but it does make up 17 percent of this urban forest, so that’s a little bit high.”
A new $25,000 matching grant from the DNR will help Phillips create a plan for fighting the emerald ash borer. The grant will also allow the city to work with Phillips schools. Students will help with a citywide tree inventory, learn about urban forestry, and plant trees.
Price County Review: It all started with reading.
For Megan Peterson, special education teacher at Phillips Elementary, it was while reading an education magazine that she happened upon a story about a Wisconsin man who introduced the idea of putting books on school buses… and changed the entire experience of bus riding. As reading tends to do, it inspired Peterson to introduce the concept into the Phillips School District.
Ted Chaudoir, a bus driver for Southern Door County School District, invented what is now known as the Books on the Bus program. It combines extending literacy outside of school hours at the same time as decreasing disruption on buses… especially during long bus rides. In practice, the reading initiative has existed – and thrived – at the Southern Door County School District for two years.
Peterson, enthused by the success story she read, turned to fellow PES teacher Julie Zumach. Zumach was equally excited, and together the two teachers traveled to the district’s bus garage where bus garage supervisor Cindy Quelle jumped on board with the rapidly expanding idea.
“We had a lot of support right away… which was very exciting,” said Peterson. School administration was supportive of the project and so was the school board when the idea was presented to them, so Peterson moved forward on the next step of the project – getting books. She printed up fliers, letters and posters asking community members for book donations to help get the project off the ground.
The significance of those numbers comes into slightly clearer focus when you consider that Mercer has just 32 students in its entire student body. That total makes it one of the smallest schools in the state, and ensures that the Tigers regularly play against teams from schools several times Mercer’s size.