Sheri Samson
Desert Research Institute representatives met with local school leaders to discuss increasing STEM resources in Mineral County.

In an outreach to bring free, additional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational resources to the Mineral County School system, the Desert Research Institute (DRI), located in Reno and Las Vegas, sent three DRI representatives to a meeting with five school members, arranged by Shelley Hartmann of the Mineral County Economic Development Association. This meeting was designed to share materials and provide direct contacts surrounding an assisted educational program known as the “Green Box”.

Amelia Gulling, STEM Educational Manager for the K-12 grades, stated, “This Green Box Program began over four years ago, with 65,000 students already experiencing its value. The vision was to bring a hands-on instruction to the K-12 grade classroom, to stimulate learning and provide teachers with all the necessary items surrounding their chosen topics. We are accomplishing this free of charge and have been approved by the State as a vetted program, which meets all requirements in the educational system as our own grant-driven endeavor.”

The program has been bettering itself and embracing the input of educators, every time a Green Box completes a travel. With every returning box, a teacher’s journal which is called “Notes from the Field” assists DRI in their ability to adjust lessons and continue growing the effort. Even returning the box, after a two week or more course time, is an easy effort. They are clearly marked, providing a step-by-step assistance to every teacher.”

A sampling of the items available to schools and students were displayed, as well as an explanation and overview of all programs available. DRI’s coordinator, Leah Madison and Mackenzie Peterson, administrator, shared specifics for this collaborative and engaging Green Box endeavor. Each kit includes core instruction, with step-by-step lessons and activities to be used in groups of three-to-five, but accommodating class sizes that are up to 40 students. Expendable materials, such as glue, paper, handouts and various supplies used in the performance of the lessons, are also included at no charge. Laminated worksheets, handouts and lesson effectiveness have been designed to meet the State of Nevada’s criteria as a self-contained lesson on wheels, utilizing three-dimensional learning skills.

The Science Alive programs integrate innovative, next-generation science subjects, such as industry-related agriculture or botany subject matter, but also expands into drones, atmospheric teaching, space and other age-appropriate subjects which students are drawn to.

Teacher trainings, as well as direct school support is combined into the program to gain community outreach. Field trips are available when possible, along with special speakers and outside engagement. The DRI campus facility in Reno is available for tours when requested in advance and demonstrative teachings are encouraged within the community so students may share the lessons learned with others.

“DRI already has a strong presence here with the Walker Lake Restoration efforts, so we are in Mineral County in an environmental way already. This is such a natural transition to be providing our strengths with your teachers and students, so a more collaborative teaching can be achieved, plus these educational systems were designed for rural learning.” Gulling shared.

High School science teacher, Monica Keady attended and was instructed that signup for the next semester’s Green Box batches needed to be reserved on Friday, shipping out on Jan. 16, 2018. Principal Jeff Wales and Keady discussed their plans, while learning that four kits per school could be ordered. Both were advised that reservations would go quickly, so familiarizing with courses and options in advance were advised. Schurz Elementary School was also contacted for the ordering process.

Superintendent Walt Hackford; Career and Technical Ed, Debbie Hackford; JAG State Career Development representative, Marcus Sherfied; Randy Samson, Vice Chairman for economic development and one School Board member participated. Teachers can also receive in-service training credits through the Green Box program.