Kentucky Looks to Mimic Charters With ‘Districts of Innovation’

Students at a charter schoolKentucky is trying a different approach to charter schools. From Ed Week:

“As part of a new, uniquely comprehensive law passed during this year’s state legislative session, and now being readied for implementation by the state board, districts can apply to become ‘Districts of Innovation,’ and be exempt from certain regulations and education policy.”

“But schools can apply for things like the right to use competency-based learning, in which academic credit is awarded based on mastery, not seat time; extended day, school year, and learning outside the school building; and new pathways to graduation, including, it seems, the ability to create new schools around those pathways.”

Read the whole article by clicking here.

Alltech’s Kidzone teaches farming, food and the environment

Children at a farmFrom Alltech: “Welcome to Kidzone, a fun website which teaches you about food, farming and the importance of healthy eating. Our site offers worksheets, games and quizzes that will help you learn about life on the farm, the surrounding environment and where your food comes from.”

Kidzone features “Day in the life” videos, a page dedicated to careers in agriculture, lessons plans for teachers and fun and games for kids. To see all that Kidzone has to offer, click here.

UK’s Josiah Hanna Receives Innovation Award

Josiah HannaJosiah Hanna, who was a guest on the second episode of the Innovation Update, has been named the “inaugural recipient of the Duncan E. Clarke Memorial Innovation Award. The award was established as a tribute to former computer science professor Duncan Clarke’s educational and career achievements, his passion for research and his lifelong pursuit of innovation and excellence.”

To read more about Josiah, including his plans after graduation, click here.

Challenger Center Marks 10 Years

Challenger shuttleThe Challenger Learning Center at Paducah on the campus of West Kentucky Community and Technical College has been providing STEM programming for 10 years now. Through the Challenger Learning Center at Paducah’s efforts, over 75,000 people of all ages have been exposed to science, technology, engineering and math. Congratulations to the Challenger Learning Center at Paducah, and for the sake of Kentucky’s future, keep up the good work!

Read the whole article, including what’s planned for the 10-year celebration, by clicking here.

Girls in Science STEM Day Photos

As a follow-up to the Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative Conference held October 12 at the National Corvette Museum, Western Kentucky University welcomed girls in grades 5-8 for an afternoon of hands-on, minds-on exploration into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Female STEM practitioners and educators led girls through activities that mirrored real-world STEM tasks and highlighted creative and innovative problem solving. Participants also learned how to best prepare themselves to study STEM fields in high school and college.

The event was facilitated by WKU’s SKyTeach program.

Keys to success?

Ring of keysFrom the Bowling Green Daily News: The Western Kentucky University small business accelerator has helped Jeffrey DeJarnette and Justin Henderson realize their dream of mass producing a key organizer. The accelerator awarded the two Bowling Green men $12,000 in seed money, which the duo used to produce an initial order of 30,000 organizers. The product goes on sale in 80 stores starting next week.

Innovate Kentucky would like to congratulate Jeffrey and Justin on starting their own business, and encourage budding entrepreneurs to take advantage of WKU’s small business accelerator. For more information on the accelerator, visit

Read the full Daily News article about Jeffrey and Justin by clicking here.

Episode 9: Kentucky Girls STEM with Sue and Melissa

National Girls Collaborative logoThe Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative will host its annual conference Friday, October 12 at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. The next day, SKyTeach will help facilitate a Girls in Science STEM Day at Snell Hall on the campus of Western Kentucky University. Together, the two events will reach out to girls and encourage them to pursue STEM disciplines in high school and college and work in STEM fields once they graduate.

In this episode of the Innovation Update, Josh talks with UK’s Sue Scheff and WKU’s Melissa Rudloff about the conference and the Girls in STEM day, and also why encouraging girls in STEM is vital to Kentucky’s future.


Episode 8: NASA Downlink with Jaleh Rezaie

International Space Station in orbitEastern Kentucky University, in partnership with Kentucky Educational Television (KET), was recently named one of the six NASA downlink sites where students will be able to communicate with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The event, which takes place Jan. 11 on EKU’s campus, will feature a 20-minute question and answer session with the astronauts. Approximately 180 middle schoolers from EKU’s service area will be in attendance.

In this episode of the Innovation Update, Josh talks with Jaleh Rezaie – associate dean of Graduate Education and Research and executive director of the STEM-H Institute at EKU – about the NASA downlink program and the growing need for increased STEM awareness across Kentucky.


Research Louisville shows science in action

“Darcy, if you’ll hold him, I’ll make him come alive.”The Just for Kids Transport Team shows off John the test dummy.

With a few taps on a tablet computer, the child-sized test dummy named John snapped to life in Darcy’s arms. He blinked his brilliant blue eyes and breathed with a slight wheeze. The blue ring of light around John’s mouth offered a clue as to why his breathing was constricted – his oxygen levels were low.

This was the scene at the Louisville Science Center on Sept. 19, 2012, as the Just for Kids Transport Team presented to roughly 100 students seated in front of them. The students – grades 6-12 – were there for Research Louisville, a 1-day event where students heard from researchers and had hands-on science experiences.

The Just for Kids Transport Team, which provides transportation for young patients in need of sophisticated emergency care, brought John along to demonstrate how the team trains for handling different emergency scenarios.

First up was a situation in which John had drowned. The students watched as the team began chest compressions and administered CPR, all the while keeping an eye on the tablet to monitor John’s vital signs. Next up was a situation where John was in the hospital and had been wheezing for 30 minutes. Again, the students watched as team members sprang into action.

For Josh Sumrall, an eighth grader at TK Elementary School in Elizabethtown, the demonstration gave a real world application to what he’d been learning in class.

“I recognized a few of the terms,” Josh said. “I see how it applies now, how applications are carried out.”

Josh’s classmate Gracie Greenwell recognized the value in using a test dummy like John.

“I think it’s a great way to help teach our emergency personnel what’s going to happen,” she said.

Once the Just for Kids Transport Team finished its presentation, Josh, Gracie, and the rest of their classmates were taken upstairs for a demonstration from the Paris Simulation Center’s Kevin Martin and Ian Beilman. Kevin and Ian, with their own adult-sized dummy, simulated a collapsed lung. The students were then asked to guess what might be wrong with the dummy given its symptoms, and eventually they deduced the correct diagnosis.

TK Stone students Ethan Eitutis and Josh SumrallOne of the students who helped the group arrive at that diagnosis was Ethan Eitutis, whose mother works as a nurse at Hardin Memorial Hospital. Even with his previous exposure to the medical field, Ethan was still surprised at the sophistication of the dummy.

“I didn’t know that they had all this simulation stuff,” he said. “I thought they just did it with the dummies you see in the car crash commercials.”

Eager to avoid a desk job, Ethan said he’s thought about the entering the medical field – particularly as an EMT – for a possible career. For him, the possibility of helping others is exciting.

“I like the fact that you can interact with people besides just talking to them,” Ethan said. “You’re getting to help people. Whenever something is wrong, you can be the first person there to help somebody out.”

Ian said that’s what their demonstrations are all about – building excitement.

“Events like this show the practicality, show how we’re doing it, and it really gets people excited, he said. “We have to get past this viewpoint of science as something you don’t want to do, and make it something that is interesting, fascinating and cool.”

Ian believes that building interest in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields is crucial to advancing society further into the 21st century.

A red button that says "Show me the science!"

“The STEM fields, that’s the future,” he said. “We need math and technology to discover. We’ve come so far and we still have so much to learn. We’ve seen more of the moon that we have the bottom of the ocean.”

That journey of discovery starts with students like Josh, Gracie and Ethan.

“They’ll be designing solutions to engineering problems that we don’t even know exist yet,” Ian said. “That’s why this is important.”

Click here to see a gallery of photos from Research Louisville.

Research Louisville Photos

The Louisville Science Center was buzzing with activity during Research Louisville, as students from  St. Martha in Jefferson County, Phoenix School of Discovery in Jefferson County, Our Lady of Lourdes in Jefferson County, Carter G. Woodson Academy in Fayette County, T.K. Stone Middle School in Hardin County and Adair County Middle School in Adair County observed hands-on demonstrations of research being done in the medical field. Innovate Kentucky had the chance to follow students from TK Stone as they attended demonstrations by the Just for Kids Transport Team and the Paris Simulation Center. Both demonstrations featured life-like dummies that captured the students’ attention and inspired their imagination.