Dublin Villager

Dublin-based Roto gives STEM insights

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Roto has educated children across the world.

But through a new collaboration between the Dublin-based company and Dublin City Schools, the educational focus will fall on local students.

Roto, a company that designs and produces experiences for museums and entertainment venues, counts among its clients COSI and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Last week, however, a new group brainstormed at the Discovery Boulevard company as 10 Dublin City Schools teachers tried a new kind of professional development.

"I want teachers to come out with good ideas of ways to apply industry problems into the classroom," said Kimberly Clavin, the district's manager of STEM initiatives.

Since starting her job in the fall, Clavin has worked to stoke student interest in STEM subjects, or science, technology, engineering and math, by creating fun exercises that show how classroom lessons can be applied in the real world.

Giving teachers a look at Roto and how it develops exhibits for museums and zoos was just one more way for Clavin to bring a new type of learning into the classroom.

When teachers met with Roto President Joseph Wisne, they learned about the process designers go through to develop educational exhibitions.

Roto is no stranger to students and educators, but its work with Dublin schools will be a little different.

"Because many Roto client institutions are museums and zoos who themselves forge relationships with local schools, Roto does meet regularly with teachers and administrators to align exhibit strategies with curriculum requirements," Wisne said.

"However, the majority of our clients are outside of Ohio or the United States, so it is a rare delight to be able to host active classroom teachers here in our own facility. That is very exciting for me personally and for our staff."

Dublin teachers shared the sentiment.

"We're really trying to get kids introduced to alternative ways to use science in the real world," said Lee Ann Raybould, an eighth-grade science teacher at Grizzell Middle School.

Right now, there are a few science exercises students get excited about, such as creating balloon-powered cars, but Raybould wants to increase those offerings.

Grizzell art teacher Todd Arnold collaborates with a STEM teacher on projects and hopes to work knowledge from Roto into his classroom, especially the design process.

"I thought, 'oh, my gosh, this place looks cool,' " he said of the training. "It sounds like fun to me."

Along with learning about the design process used at Roto, teachers also discussed other ways to bring STEM into the classroom, such as designing floor plans or creating carnival games.

"Teachers have a difficult job meeting the obligations of standardized testing while also keeping STEM learning authentically interesting and engaging from the students' perspective," Wisne said. "Providing fun, real-world examples of science and engineering in action can support the classroom mission beyond the standard lesson plan."

Students won't be the only benefactors of the collaboration.

"In return, Roto maintains a sharp understanding about the learning styles and abilities of children in different grades, which is important for successful exhibit design," Wisne said.

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