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.”

Flickr Creative Commons

WKU wants to convince more middle and high school girls to pursue classes in the STEM fields. More than 200 area girls in grades 5-12 will be on campus Saturday, Sept. 6, for the Girls in Science Day event.

The effort will focus on helping girls explore fields of study in science, technology, engineering, and math. Program coordinator Melissa Rudloff says many girls who initially excel in science-related classes take fewer of those courses as they get older.

“Research tells us that going back to elementary and middle school, many of those girls who may have entered those professions definitely had interest and ability in those fields. But somewhere along the way they become channeled in different directions. And many may do that themselves, or maybe it’s through the lack of experiences they have,” said Rudloff, who is the Professional-In-Residence at WKU’s SKyTeach program, which instructs future middle and high school math and science teachers.

One of the events at the Girls in Science Day gathering will be a talk led by Cheryl Stevens, Dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. Rudloff believes it’s extremely important for girls to meet women who have succeeded in science-related fields.

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.”


WKU is part of a collaborative effort to increase the number of minority students pursuing degrees in the so-called “STEM” fields.

WKU and eight other higher education institutions in the commonwealth and West Virginia have been awarded a five-year, $ 2.5 million National Science Foundation grant that will primarily focus on undergraduates seeking diplomas in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

WKU’s Associate Vice President for Retention and Student Services, Joelle Davis Carter, says she hopes some of the school’s grant money will be used to create a “summer bridge” program.

“This would be an opportunity for prospective college students to come to campus a little earlier, maybe five weeks earlier, stay on campus, and participate in reiterations of math and science,” she told WKU Public Radio.

WKU has been awarded a $150,000 grant to support early childhood education. 

The funding from the PNC Foundation will be used to produce videos that will expose children to the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, and math.  The videos will be distributed to places such as libraries, housing authorities, and preschools in Kentucky and Tennessee. 

"The hardest thing about changing the number of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in Kentucky relates to the fact that unless you stimulate interest early and students are really prepared to be successful when they go to college in those areas, then it's not going to happen," said Dr. Julia Roberts, executive director of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at WKU.

Kentucky will need to fill 74,000 STEM jobs by 2018, yet only 12 percent of bachelor’s degrees conferred in the state are in STEM fields.