LPS opens doors with focus on tech

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From stems grow beautiful blossoms, and Littleton Public Schools will continue to nurture theirs during the 2013-2014 school year, which starts Aug. 19.

In this case, the stems are STEM, the buzz acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. These, say educators, are the bases for the jobs of the future.

“We’ve been focusing on it for a very long time,” said Diane Leiker, LPS director of communications. “We think STEM is important enough that we focus it on every school.”

The students seem excited about it, as well. So much so that the first free Engineering Exploration Workshop, open to all LPS high-schoolers, is full — even though it’s on a Saturday morning. Not to worry, there are eight more scheduled through November.

Instructors for the workshop come from local offices of companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, the University of Colorado, Raytheon and United Launch Alliance.

“We have a lot of parents and community members who have worked in engineering fields during the course of their career and have chosen to live in this area,” said Leiker. “Maybe not every school district has the opportunity to offer this, but we do because of our community. We just have some natural ties.”

Also new this year, though not until second semester, is an introduction to computer science class. It’s taught at Littleton High School but open to any LPS high-schooler. The district has never offered a programming class before, and administrators hope to launch it into an entire sequence leading to AP computer science.

To keep the momentum going, the LPS Foundation recently earned a $500,000 matching grant to create and enhance even more STEM projects.

“We are very excited about this incredible opportunity to partner with LPS to help further advance the STEM focus in our schools,” said Mary McGlone, LPSF president, in a statement. “Our goal is to turn this gift into $1 million. We will be asking the community, ‘Where else can you get such a great return on your investment?’”

Last year, district schools took home a bevy of awards from both the state and national technology competitions, and Littleton High School was the state champion for the 11th time.

“Today’s students will create tomorrow’s careers and the technology that drives them,” reads the LPS Back to School Guide.