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By Kenna Ducoff

Fifty of Batavia Public School District’s smartest third through eighth-graders will no longer be attending Batavia Public Schools next school year.

The Board of Education in Batavia decided in February to join the John C. Dunham STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Partnership School. Only the 50 selected students will get the chance to have this opportunity, but the Batavia Board of Education is hoping that this will also improve the science curriculum at Batavia’s schools. They hope that the school will broaden the students’ thinking skill and make them think outside the box.

The STEM Partnership School is located on the Aurora University campus. It was created by Aurora University with the partnership of West Aurora, Indian Prairie, and Oswego, although Oswego has branched off from the school to begin its own STEM program.

STEM’s website says that, “One of our goals; is to make it fun, and to show what STEM can do in the future.”

Two Batavia school teachers will also be selected to teach at the STEM partnership school. The students who will attend the school next year have already been selected and are about to see the next generation of science curriculum.

“Honestly, if I were on the school board I wouldn’t have voted for this because all students don’t get this opportunity,” said Sandy Zahner, a parent of a Batavia student attending STEM next year. “A lot of students have the same desire. I would like to see something more fair.”

To get into the Aurora STEM school there was an application process, and then the students were picked out of the eligible students in a randomized lottery.

Luke Zahner, a fifth grader at J.B. Nelson Elementary School who was selected to attend the STEM school next fall, is excited to begin the next chapter in his curriculum at STEM.

“I think that it could help me get a scholarship to get into a better high school, and it will get me into a lot of AP classes, and it will help me get into a great college, and it will prepare me to get a good job,” Luke said.

The John C. Dunham Partnership school also has a variety of extracurricular activities such as band, robotics, chess club, and drama club. All the extracurricular activities that STEM has to offer are proven through research to enhance students’ learning abilities.

The STEM school also wants to encourage, and improve the students collaborating skills. This is because they think that it is an important skill to have.

“The kids work in teams to problem solve,” said Sandy. “The teaching concept is to give kids a problem and have them work together to reach a solution.”

STEM’s modern architecture of the facility is also made to enhance the children’s learning and creativity, with colors filling the classrooms.

“The architecture looks modern and new,” Luke said. “It has smart boards, 3-D printers, robotic arms, animal skulls, and interactive exhibits such as a bicycle that powers a lightbulb.”

Next year, the 50 students from Batavia will get to experience the hands on experience that  STEM has to offer. STEM offers a unique hands-on experience that Luke thinks is different than any other school. Aurora University is also conducting several experiments to encourage the replication of their programs in other communities.

The STEM school has a long list of partners encouraging their education such as Nicor Gas, Aurora University, Cabot Microelectronics, Caterpillar Foundation, Commonwealth Edison, Dart Foundation, Dunham Fund, Exelon Foundation, VVF, Tellabs Foundation, Waste Management, and Illinois Clean Energy Foundation.

STEM’s website says that, “Our mission is to collaboratively develop students’ interests and aptitudes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare them for further education and careers in those fields.”


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