(TNS) — After about a month of setup, they are finally open.
With the start of the spring semester, three county middle schools launched new classes for students in science, engineering, technology and math.
The classes launch alongside new STEM Labs at Contentnea-Savannah, Frink Middle and Rochelle Middle Schools.
Funded by a $515,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation, each new lab features new desks, computer workstations, 3-D printers and other new goodies.
The labs all opened at around the same time, and are built to match the lab found at Woodington Middle School since last school year.
"This really ties the real world into the education curriculum," Shannarra Barrow, STEM facilitator at RMS, said. "It's not just sitting behind a desk and being lectured all day. In here they are more in charge of their learning than in other classes."
Barrow said her class is divided into about 40 percent lecture and computing instruction and 60 percent hands-on instruction.
Students use guided instruction on their iPads to work through different modules -- labeled "expeditions" that walk them through a unit.
"We are taking something that is already invented, and we are trying to make it better than it already is," Kaylin Mills, one of Barrow's eighth-grade students, said during her Wednesday class. "I didn't want to do this at first, but now that I'm going through it, it's kind of fun. I want to stay in here."
Barrow said the goal of the lab is to get students thinking about what they want to do as a career sooner rather than later, and to expose them to what options are available to them locally.
Dustin George can be reached at 252-559-1077 or Dustin.George@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinGeorgeKFP.
©2017 The Free Press (Kinston, N.C.), distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.