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Exploration and discovery drive B. Mac success

Learning at B. McDaniel Intermediate School revolves around imagination, curiosity, exploration and discovery. Science labs and research projects invite investigation and enable problem solving. Art and music enrich young minds. Community partners bring real-world experiences to curious and engaged students.

“Our students earned four STAAR Distinction Designations this past school year for Academic Achievement in ELA/Reading, Mathematics and Science, and also for Closing Performance Gaps,” said B. Mac Principal Alvis Dunlap. “This goes hand-in-hand with our interactive and collaborative approach to team teaching, highly effective community partnerships, and increased interest in STEM courses among our students.”

Denison ISD recently received $26,000 in Title IV funds, with $17,000 earmarked for after-school STEM Clubs designed to enhance education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. In addition to B. Mac’s 5th and 6th graders, the district’s five elementary schools are also hosting STEM Clubs on their campuses through April 5th from 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

“Our goals are three-fold,” said Dunlap. “We want to expand the number of students who pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields while increasing the participation of female students, minorities and economically disadvantaged students. We also want to increase STEM literacy for low achieving students and provide hands-on and minds-on lessons for students.”

During regular classroom hours at B. McDaniel, the STEM push has already begun, thanks to 5th grade teacher Jyl McDaris who inspired DISD School Board President Randy Sedlacek to bring his drone to school for an in-depth presentation and demonstration.

“The kids were totally enthralled,” said Dunlap. “Mr. Sedlacek explained how quickly drone use has grown over the past five years and how it has impacted society. He also explained the many FAA rules and regulations governing drones, the licensing requirements, the perils and pitfalls as well as potential benefits, and the emerging job opportunities in photography, delivery, security and other fields. He gave details about how the military uses drones for surveillance, target determination and data collection….and how farmers might use drones to check on livestock and crop damage following severe storms and flooding. He even told them about a company that’s building a drone capable of carrying a one-ton object.”

According to Sedlacek, several Unmanned Aircraft Systems (the technical term for drones) were used for search and recovery efforts after recent hurricanes. “They were deployed to inspect and assess damage to dams and other infrastructure systems…and to pinpoint rescue opportunities because drones don’t put humans in harm’s way and can fly safely in places that other aircraft can’t,” said Sedlacek. “I really enjoyed interacting and engaging with our students. Seeing the excitement on their faces and hearing their intriguing questions are great reminders of why our public school educators do what they do. Our students are important, and we need to do everything we can to engage and interest them in learning. Public education is the single most important function in our community, state and country and is essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people.”

Dunlap said the best moment for the kids occurred when Sedlacek launched the drone. “All eyes were on the sky. It was a learning experience they won’t soon forget. We’re all very grateful to Mr. Sedlacek for sharing his drone with us -- and we’re all enjoying the great photo he sent of our students --- taken by the drone, of course!”

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