Early College and Career Center

Flickr/Creative Commons/Vex Robotics

The Hardin County School System is preparing to host a group of international robotics teams ahead of a major competition next week in Louisville.

The VEX Robotics World Championships are being held Wednesday through Saturday at the Kentucky Expo Center and Freedom Hall. The competition features teams from elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as colleges from all across the world.

Some Central Hardin High School robotics team members will get some special practice before they head to Louisville for the championships.

Jason Neagle, with the Hardin County Schools Early College and Career Center, says fifteen teams from China and Singapore will spend Monday and Tuesday in Elizabethtown, where they will practice their robotics and engineering programs.

“Our students are going to get the opportunity to work alongside with them. The Chinese teams are some of the top-ranked teams in the world, and we have some Top-30 ranked teams as well.”

Hardin County Schools

A financial gift from a corporation will allow a Hardin County high school to offer a curriculum designed to help students excel in the STEM fields.

Dow Corning Corporation announced Monday that it’s donating $25,000 to implement the Project Lead The Way program at John Hardin High School. Project Lead the Way is a non-profit effort that designs programs related to science, technology, engineering, and math that are used in over 5,000 schools in the country.

Hardin County Schools spokesman John Wright says Project Lead the Way will open doors for students who excel in the program.

“North Hardin, John Hardin, and Central Hardin engineering students will now get the prerequisites that they need at their home high schools that will allow them to go to our new Hardin County Schools’ Early College and Career Center that opens in August.”

Ground will be broken Wednesday morning at the future site of the Hardin County Schools Early College and Career Center. The effort is a collaboration between the school system and WKU, and will allow high school students in the Hardin County system to take classes during the academic year that will transform into college credit from WKU, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, or Sullivan University.

Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston says the Early College and Career Center is facing a strict construction deadline.

"I can sum it up in the one word: aggressive. Typically, we look at construction projects of this magnitude taking about 18 months. We want this project to be completed by August of 2014," Johnston told WKU Public Radio.

The Early College and Career Center will offer Hardin County students classes in fields such as engineering, manufacturing, automotive technology, media arts and communication, and culinary arts and hospitality services.

Hardin County Schools and WKU are partnering to create an Early College and Career Center. The partnership announced Thursday also includes Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and the Central Kentucky Community Foundation.

The result will be a new building where Hardin County school students can take courses in several career pathways, including engineering, manufacturing, automotive technology, media arts, and health sciences.

Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nanette Johnston told WKU Public Radio the center will offer students a new way to prepare for either the workforce or postsecondary education.

"We have to get out of this mindset that if you don't go to college you have to go to a vocational school. This is not a vocational school like you and I might be familiar with," said Johnston.

WKU faculty will teach classes at the Early College and Career Center during the day and college courses in the evenings once the high school students go home.