Wednesday, March 8, 2017

OPS to Launch Innovation Model for Middle School Students

The Owensboro Public Schools will be launching a new innovation model targeting middle school students for the 2018-2019 school year.  

Innovation Middle will serve students in grades 6 through 8 with a broad arts and sciences focus using a “Museum School Model” partnering with museums and cultural institutions to stimulate learning and engagement.

The Innovation Middle will be a part of the OPS District of Innovation program and be a sister school to the Owensboro Innovation Academy, which serves students in grades 9-12 using a similar project-based learning format.   The Innovation Academy uses STEM-based careers as a way to engage high school students.  Innovation Middle will focus on a broad-based liberal arts curriculum using museums as the tool for student engagement.  

“The core philosophy of hands-on and project-based learning is perfect for middle school students,” said Dr. Nick Brake, OPS Superintendent. “That age group is a challenging time to engage students in a rigorous curriculum.  The collaborative approach using museum learning is a natural fit and one that has had considerable success nationally.  Owensboro is blessed with an abundance of museums for a town our size.  I think the capacity exists for this school to be a tremendous tool for student growth and development in years when student brains are wired for such interactive learning options,” said Brake.

While an exact location has not been determined, the school intends to collaborate with the multiple institutions such as Owensboro Museum of Science History, the RiverPark Center, and the Wendell Ford Government Education Center, the International Bluegrass Museum as well as the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art.    

According to the National Association of Museum Schools there are more than 30 schools nationally utilizing project-based learning in collaboration with museums.   The following are key elements for successful implementation:

  • In-depth partnerships with museums and related learning institutions including zoos, aquaria, galleries, performing arts venues, historic homes, and scientific organizations to support the museum learning model through professional development and student programming.
  • Commitment on the part of the school faculty and administration to support frequent visits to related institutions and by museum educational staff to support in-class curriculum.
  • Integration of authentic, student created artifacts and exhibits into the curriculum for prominent display of individual and classroom projects throughout the school building.

In addition to the Museum School approach and like its sister school, the Owensboro Innovation Academy, iMiddle will be an affiliate of the national New Tech Network.   New Tech Network (NTN) is a non-profit organization that helps students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.