SLANESVILLE — Slanesville Elementary is taking STEAM education mobile, with the upcoming addition of a STEAM bus outside of the school.

STEAM education focuses on elements of science, technology, engineering, arts and math, and principal Jodie Long was inspired by a friend to bring the concept of a “mobile STEAM lab” to Slanesville. 

Long explained that even though new schools are on the horizon for Hampshire County, the North Elementary in Slanesville will be the last of the 3 schools to be built. Because the current building is so small, Long said they were looking for a place to participate in hands-on learning. 

“Right now we store everything in the library,” she said. “We’re a small building but we focus on exploratory learning. Getting hands-on science stuff is a lot, and it’s hard with no storage.” 

 She said she thought, “If I could get a bus, I could turn it into a STEAM lab.”

Her goal is having teachers sign it out, and STEAM supplies could be kept in the bus. 

The bus is in hand, thanks to the Hampshire County transportation department, and right now the seats on the passenger side are being torn out, and the rest of the seats turned to be facing each other.

“On the empty side, I want to do a long counter top as a work station,” Long described. “Maybe if we pilot it, other schools will follow.” 

She added that she wants to work with a local artist to conceptualize the decoration of the bus, with a science-themed mural adorning the side of the mobile STEAM lab.

(Well, technically not mobile, she admitted. “I won’t be driving it around.”) 

The school will also be incorporating John J. Cornwell Elementary into the STEAM lab mural, since the schools work closely together. 

With the addition of the STEAM bus, outdoor learning spaces and picnic tables with awnings, Slanesville Elementary is expanding the definition of “classroom.” 

And, even though a new school is in the cards within the not-too-distant future, the bus will be kept as an additional learning space. 

Long said it looks like the bus will open its doors in September.

“I’m just really excited,” she said. “It’s going to give us this new space, and get the kids excited, too.” o

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