COE’s lab school aims to shape K-12 education for ‘innovation economy’

Contributed by Dr. Lynda Fender Hayes Director, P.K.Yonge Developmental Research School  While our nation is focused on growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs (STEM) as essential drivers in […]


October 3, 2011



Contributed by Dr. Lynda Fender Hayes
Director, P.K.Yonge Developmental Research School

 logo for P.K. Yonge SchoolWhile our nation is focused on growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs (STEM) as essential drivers in this innovation economy, the 21st century workplace also demands skills in creativity, communication and collaboration.

P.K. Yonge is moving “full STEAM ahead” in the growth and support of the three A’s—Athletics, visual Arts, and performing Arts programs—while also enriching programs and opportunities for all students in the STEM disciplines. The Blue Wave administration and faculty are embarking on a multi-disciplinary effort to design, develop, implement and test educational models that prepare well-rounded students for success in this era of innovation.

Below is a sampling of the UF laboratory school’s current innovative pursuits . . .

PKY teachers adopt self-directed professional development for 21st century teaching model

Over the summer, P.K. Yonge faculty donned their proposal writing caps and ventured into a new mode of professional development—self-determined, self-directed, and self-improving—as they  took next steps in designing and developing a 21st century teaching model.

Professional development for K-12 teachers is often classroom-based or an online module presenting a new model of instruction, a new way of engaging students, or even a new technology. With support from the UF College of Education’s distance education program, the P.K. Yonge 21st Century Professional Development Project was facilitated through Purlieu. PKY teachers were guided in proposal writing and submission as they were fully immersed in self-directed learning through a virtual course management system.

As faculty members focused on planning their own curriculum development work, they experienced new tools and acquired new strategies. Areas of focus for curriculum development work included beginning music theory, standards-based grading, online science modules, visual arts wikis, course management systems, Promethean software, and assessments for learning.

Completed projects were presented to a receptive review board impressed by the scope and quality of products resulting from the process. To learn more about results of the P.K. Yonge 21st Century Professional Development Project, please visit And stay tuned for more projects next summer.

Middle school science teachers pursue reform-oriented curriculum

P.K. Yonge middle school science teachers teamed up with Hamilton County schools in August on the implementation of Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology (IQWST). The IQWST curriculum, a National Science Foundation project, supports teacher implementation of an inquiry-based, learning-goals-driven, standards-aligned, spiraling science curriculum.

Daily, hands-on investigations supported by argument-driven, evidence-based reasoning ensure that all students acquire essential understandings of challenging science concepts. IQWST developers from the University of Michigan led the science teachers through three days of hands-on training and consultative conversation as P.K. Yonge prepared for continuing implementation and Hamilton County prepared to begin.

According to Mayra Cordero, P.K. Yonge’s sixth grade science teacher, “there is no turning back, great things are happening in my science classroom.”  UF COE science educator Rose Pringle continues her investigation of the challenges and opportunities inherent in implementing a reform-oriented science curriculum.

Competitive international robotics club formed

P.K. Yonge physics and biology teacher Kerry Thompson has launched a FIRST robotics club for interested Blue Wave students.  FIRST is an international robotics competition founded by Segway creator Dean Kaman. Competing teams build and program a robot to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors.

More than 30 Blue Wave high school students are participating and recently took their first field trip—a lock-in at the University of Tampa to participate in an off-season event.  Mentored by the FIRST robotics team of Windermere (Fla.) Preparatory School (where Thompson previously taught and mentored), PKY students got to operate the arm and coach the drive team of the Windermere high school team’s robot during the informal competition. Blue Wave participants also served as human players during two of the games, tossing tubes the robots had to pick up).

UF’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering is providing construction space and access to its machine shop when the build season begins in January.

Fundraising efforts are underway to support registration fees, travel costs, and materials purchases.  Anyone interested in supporting the P.K. Yonge FIRST robotics team as a mentor/volunteer or with a donation may contact faculty adviser Kerry Thompson.