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Ford features RPS 205 project at summer STEAM event

From left: Ald. Bill Rose, Guilford student John Johnson and Wester Wuori, the mayor's chief of staff, discuss a Guilford project that won a Ford grant for innovation in sustainable communities.

From left: Ald. Bill Rose, Guilford student John Johnson and Wester Wuori, the mayor’s chief of staff, discuss a Guilford project that won a Ford grant for innovation in sustainable communities.

Six current and former Guilford High School students will travel to Dearborn, Mich., next week to participate in the inaugural Ford STEAM Day.

The Guilford team was chosen because of its second place earlier this year in the Ford STEAM Challenge. The team received $10,000 to launch its idea to promote a sustainable community–installing solar-powered cell phone charging stations and creating an outdoor learning lab in the Guilford courtyard.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art/design and math.

In advance of the Michigan trip, team members met Wednesday morning to talk about their project with Rockford Ald. Bill Rose and Wester Wuori, chief of staff to Mayor Tom McNamara. Rose knows a bit about project-based learning; he is coach of the high school academies at East High School.

The Guilford students made a video earlier this year to explain their project—see a 1-minute version here. They started with a problem: The City of Rockford’s decision in 2011 to remove 16 percent of its streetlights as a budget-cutting measure. The students brainstormed what they believed was a feasible solution: solar-powered charging stations so people could power their cell phones and use the phone’s flashlight function.

Such problem-solving and innovation through peer support is a key part of learning in RPS 205 high school academies, according to Chris Magee, academy coach at Guilford. “The teacher is no longer the sage on the stage,” Magee said. “We are being more of the facilitators of learning versus the experts giving out the information.”

Magee will accompany the students for the two-day STEAM event, which is June 19 and 20. It is sponsored by Ford Next Generation Learning, the signature program of the Ford Motor Company Fund, a charitable organization.

In 2015, Ford NGL named Rockford the nation’s third model community. The Rockford Public Schools–in collaboration with Alignment Rockford, community businesses and organizations—has college and career academies at its high schools.

Gina Worathepnuthas, Lauren Bear, John Johnson, Julian Haynie, Gretchen Stark and Thien Diep are the current and former Guilford students scheduled to travel to the Ford event.

Mary Kaull is strategic communications coordinator for the Rockford Public Schools. Click here to subscribe to this blog. Also, please like RPS 205 on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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