Orange County educators celebrate 1st STEM bus in Southeast Texas
Published 12:20 am Saturday, August 19, 2023
BRIDGE CITY — Bridge City Independent School District is making headway, having the first mobile classroom bus in Southeast Texas, school officials said.
The new educational frontier is brought on by a STEM bus.
The concept of a STEM bus originated with a company reaching out to Bridge City High School about acquiring a bus.
Although the negotiation didn’t work out, it provoked the question of what the school would do if leaders had a bus that was empty and ready to be built upon from scratch.
A mobile STEM classroom inside of a bus was a collaborative idea of Tim Woolley, former principal of Bridge City High and Grady Welborn, former CTE Coordinator and current middle school principal in Bridge City.
The project was launched with engineering students at the high school. At the start of November 2021, roughly 75 students pitched ideas for how they envisioned the STEM bus designed.
Out of the original 75 students, 15 were selected to form a super team. They compiled the final design from the ideas chosen from each of the original groups.
A presentation team was formed from the super team, which is currently active in procuring funds for the bus while presenting information about its progress.
One standout feature of the STEM bus project is it is student-led and allows students with various academic interests to get involved.
The bus is a collaborative effort involving students of art, wood shop, engineering, flower shop and various other subjects to gain hands on learning experience while working on a conceptual idea from scratch.
The bus has already become a part of the school’s achievements.
When the original team of 15 students reached graduation, they were allowed to cut the ribbon on the STEM bus, and symbolically passed the torch to the next group of inspiring students.
“Seeing the engineering and welding kids interact with one another was fun and exciting. It was just like being on a job site,” said Lindy Welborn, the director of CTE and Secondary Curriculum.
The project is ongoing and expands upon by the next crop of students.
Out of the 930 students that attend Bridge City High school this school year, 15 will be selected to continue working as a new STEM bus team.
The team will plan labs and lessons highlighting a multitude of areas of study for the classroom on wheels.
The hands-on experience the students receive from contributing to the bus affords them the opportunity to use it as experience on resumes, college admissions applications and scholarships.
The goal of the STEM bus, once completed, is to be a mobile classroom.
Once it’s ready to roll out, there are plans for it to visit other campuses in Bridge City ISD and engage in community events.
There is also hope to get students from Pre-K to the 8th grade involved in participation.
Ideas are already flowing on what additions will be built. For example, in efforts to be sustainable, the idea of it running on solar power has been presented.
The bus plan is not just for students and residents of Bridge City, but includes the entire Golden Triangle.
There will be a community open house in September in which all are invited to see the progress.