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Baltimore Welcomes 1st Pre-K-8th Engineering-Oriented School

November 11, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Office: 443-997-9906
Cell: 443-547-8805
jrosen@jhu.edu

The Johns Hopkins University and Baltimore City Schools have partnered to create the city’s first pre-K-8th grade school dedicated to giving students a foundation in engineering and computer skills.

Every class at the Barclay Elementary/Middle School — not just science and math, but also reading, social studies and even art – will feature elements of engineering and computer science, using a curriculum supported by educators at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. And, every student has access to a new laboratory, cofounded by city schools and the university, outfitted with cutting-edge technology including 3D printers, custom-programmed computers, smartboards and a makerspace where students can design and build.

All together, the partnership represents a multimillion-dollar, 10-year commitment, with Johns Hopkins investing nearly $5 million, intended to spark higher achievement at Barclay, prepare the students for 21st century careers and strengthen the neighborhood surrounding the university’s Homewood campus.

“Our goal is to provide these students with a foundation in critical thinking, problem solving skills, and collaboration that will enable them to pursue further studies and, ultimately, careers in STEM fields,” said Ed Schlesinger, the Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School. “At the same time, the curriculum will reinforce their studies in a myriad subjects — from honing their math, written, and verbal communications skills to serving as a vehicle through which to better understand social studies and economics.”

Media are invited to a celebration of the partnership at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at the school, 2900 Barclay St., Baltimore. University and school officials will speak about the new initiative and there will be an opportunity to tour the lab, learn about the curriculum and interact with students working on projects.

The effort is part of the university’s Homewood Community Partners Initiative, a plan to strengthen and grow the 10 neighborhoods surrounding the Homewood campus. In 2012, Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels pledged $10 million over five years to support the program.

“Successful public schools are the foundation and the glue of strong neighborhoods,” Daniels said. “This partnership stands as a long-term commitment both to Barclay students and to our Baltimore community.”

The new engineering-infused curriculum emphasizes hand-on problem solving and critical thinking — not just in science and math classes, but in courses where one might not expect to find them. For example, second graders will learn about children in Africa who cook with solar ovens to preserve wood and then will build a solar oven.

In the lab’s makerspace, students will be able to see their creations come to life. For instance, fifth graders will create a windmill that generates enough electricity to power a lightbulb. Older students will use inventor software to design a playground.

There will also be opportunities for students to identify and solve problems in their own neighborhoods through engineering-based approaches.

Barclay’s 120 new computers, custom-programmed to teach engineering, will allow students to program toy robots and use their imagination to design objects that become tangible through the 3-D printers.

The university will assist with weekend and summer enrichment programs to keep students and teachers engaged. Older students, meanwhile, will have opportunities to visit Johns Hopkins to tour real engineering and robotics labs and meet students studying to become engineers.

The university and city school system hopes Barclay will be a model for other cities hoping to tap collegiate expertise to support and inspire public school students.

“This partnership will truly help us provide meaningful and engaging experiences for our students,” said principal Armanda Carr. “They will get exposure to a variety of engineering career choices during their everyday classroom instruction. I can’t wait to see the great things that our students will discover and produce.”

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