PARKER— What began as Lockheed Martin personnel volunteering for Sagewood Middle School's Robotics Days has evolved into a formal partnership with the company. This school year, Sagewood is one of just three schools statewide, and the only school in Douglas County, to be an official Ambassador School for Lockheed Martin.
The partnership is the result of several years of planning and re-envisioning what learning could look like at Sagewood. The school's Principal, Danny Winsor, spent time with his teacher-leaders, strategizing ways in which they could reach kids in a way that really got them critically thinking. Embedding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education was an important component of this.
Seeking community support, especially in the area of STEM, Winsor discovered that parents within his school community worked with Lockheed, which provided a way for him to connect to the company.
Winsor explained, “it gives us access to things that aren’t just available on their website, so to speak. It has given us the opportunity to gain access to things like [STEM education and project-based learning leader] Project Lead the Way, which is a great curriculum that we’ve been working on with them.”
Additionally, a Women in Engineering event at Lockheed provided the extremely rare opportunity for 15 female students from Sagewood to spend a day on site at Lockheed’s Deer Creek facility.
“You can never get in there because of tight security,” Winsor said. “The girls had the chance to work with female engineers to see what their jobs look like there, and then participate in competitions and workshops.”
The girls were able to hear from engineering personnel representing an array of positions from aerospace to software to mechanical and electrical engineering, each of whom shared the different pathways students could follow.
“I wish we could have sent more students, but they could only accommodate a certain number of people on their campus,” Winsor explained. “But it really gave them an opportunity to see what that life could look like, while also getting involved in some fun challenges.”
In fact, some of those team challenges were brought back into Sagewood for the school’s Innovation and Design class— a class funded in part by Lockheed as part of the ambassadorship.
Every sixth grade student— approximately 350 people— is enrolled in an Innovation and Design class, which teaches them thinking strategies and how to reflect on their learning. Lockheed also helped provide tools and resources to the school to enhance the class.
“The big thing for us is challenging them to learn how to think,” Winsor said. “They have multiple mediums to help them learn how to do that, whether it’s creating a paper rocket, or utilizing a paper airplane, or developing a mousetrap out of various materials. But it’s not even about that as much as it is about their thinking and how they capture their thinking and reflect on their learning to create a prototype, while also thinking about who the end-user might be. They also have to identify their process of learning and how they make revisions as they go through it.”
Winsor doesn’t consider the classes and activities that have grown from the Lockheed partnership to be a “program.” His hope is that they are a naturally embedded part of the school-going experience for his students.
"I so hope it doesn’t become a program, but it becomes a culture of thinking and a culture of expectation. Our teachers have allowed us to not make it about a program, but how we authentically embed this within our building,” he said.
For the future, Winsor looks forward to the continued evolution that the Lockheed partnership brings. This includes a new software programming class, which will be offered as an option to all Sagewood students next school year.
“Ultimately, this is about how we continue to find ways to transform middle-level education to prepare our kids not only for middle school, but also high school, college and beyond,” he said. “For us, what we’re demanding of our kids is quite challenging to say the least. We’ve had the chance to see some of the impact of that and some of our performance scores as a building. I think we have great teachers who have allowed it to come alive.”