Branstad: MHS should be proud of new labs

Gov. Terry Branstad described the Marshalltown Community School District as “truly a leader” when it comes to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative in the state.

Branstad spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Project Lead the Way labs at Marshalltown High School Monday. The ceremony recognized school and community leaders for their part in starting the new engineering and biomedical science classes at MHS, which are part of PLTW.

“You have a lot to be proud of,” Branstad said.

Two new innovation labs are now open after a $540,000 renovation at the school.

Several area businesses made significant donations to pay for curriculum materials in PLTW and the Verle and Ellen Hunt estate made a $100,000 donation to STEM at MHS.

MHS Principal Aiddy Phomvisay said he got a letter from a woman in the state of Nevada who heard about PLTW and she enclosed a $5,000 check.

“That’s an example of the generosity (we’ve received),” Phomvisay said.

Paul Gregoire, of Emerson/Fisher, said his company is a big believer in STEM programming to build future workers. He said boosting this type of work is good for the community as a whole and an example of the innovative nature of Marshalltown.

“We can only be as strong as the educational system,” Gregoire said.

MHS senior Daniel Blom is a student in the new engineering course and said it’s exciting to be in this pioneering program. He said this type of learning is very hands-on.

“It’s experiential learning,” Blom said.

Marshalltown Superintendent Marvin Wade said more of these types of programs are on the way to the school district.

“This isn’t going to be the end of it,” Wade said. “There’s much more to come.”

Following the ribbon cutting, there were tours of the labs as well as a science carnival.