Monday, December 17, 2018

Hour of Code at Johnson Elementary

All K-5 students at Johnson Elementary participated in Hour of Code last week. Check out the five-minute video highlighting some of the exciting Hour of Code activities students engaged in at Johnson Elementary, including 'unplugged' coding!

You can also check out the action from Johnson's Hour of Code on a recorded Facebook Live video here.

Each class received an official Certificate from Hour of Code and celebrated with Pac-Man cookies!

Congratulations to Johnson Elementary for their official participation in Hour of Code! Special thanks to Johnson Elementary STEM Facilitator Kim Martin for organizing the Hour of Code festivities!

December Issue of Colorado STEM Magazine

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Centennial Middle School Gifted & Talented Students "Save Montrose" in STEM Design Challenge

Students in the Centennial Middle School Gifted & Talented program participated in a unique STEM Design Challenge on October 17th, 2018. On their afternoon off from school, around 30 students in grades six through eight volunteered to spend their afternoon with GATE Facilitator Danielle Kistler to save the city of Montrose from "Toxic Popcorn", a design challenge from

Watch the MCSD STEM Productions video below to see these if these students were able to save Montrose from toxic popcorn...

Video Produced by John Steele
November 2018

Special Thanks to 
Danielle Kistler - Centennial Middle School GATE Facilitator
Centennial Middle School Gifted & Talented Students
Joe Simo - Centennial Middle School Principal 

Friday, November 9, 2018

MHS Multimedia Students Skype with Professional Podcast Director, Writer and Producer

MHS students in Clara Pena's Intro to Multimedia course explored the world of podcasting by collaborating in small groups to create a concept for a podcast, then designing and writing a podcast series in various formats. Student created their own websites and marketing for their podcast in addition to actually producing at least one episode. 

At the conclusion of their podcasting unit, the students listened to a brand new podcast that premiered in October called America 2.0, a scripted six-episode series featuring the voice talent of major Hollywood actors, including Laurence Fishburne, Patrick J. Adams, and Kate Walsh, among others. After listening to America 2.0, students had the rare opportunity to listen to and speak with the podcast's creator, writer, producer and director, JS Mayank, who graciously Skyped in from Hollywood. MCSD Coordinators John Steele and Matt Jenkins, friends of JS Mayank, moderated the conversation, which lasted about 30 minutes. Then, JS Mayank allowed students to ask questions for another 45 minutes, and kindly answered some great student questions with some sage wisdom and advice on everything from writing to podcasting to being a creative professional. 

Special thanks to JS Mayank for taking time to speak with our students!

Colorado STEM Magazine Nov 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

MEDC's 2nd Annual 2018 Manufacturers Expo

MCSD students and teachers participated in MEDC's 2nd Annual Manufacturer's Expo on November 1st, 2018. Represented were Montrose High School's Engineering and Biomedical Science programs, Olathe High School's Computer Science program, and Centennial Middle School's Engineering program. It was a great opportunity for our students to learn about the advanced manufacturing industry locally and to show off the great things they are doing in their schools!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

MHS PLTW Biomedical Science Program Engages Students with Authentic Scientific Inquiry

The MCSD STEM short film "It All Begins with a Dead Body: MHS PLTW Biomedical Science" offers a behind the scenes look at how Montrose High School students are engaging in authentic scientific inquiry and solving real world problems in the Principles of Biomedical Science course.

For a more in-depth look at the Biomedical Program at MHS, check out the "Director's Cut", featuring 10 additional minutes of interviews and students learning, along with a special thank you to those who made the PLTW Biomedical program possible: Thank you!

"It All Begins with a Dead Body: The MHS PLTW Biomedical Program" (17min)

Produced and Directed by John Steele
Emarae Garcia - MHS Science Teacher
Shane Yanosky - MHS Science Teacher
The Montrose Detective Unit
The Montrose Deputy Coroner
MHS Biomedical Science Students
October 2018

MHS STEM/IT Newsletter for November 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

MCSD STEM: Innovation at Work Interview with John Steele

MCSD STEM Coordinator John Steele talks with InSync Media's Laura Williams about STEM Education in the Montrose County School District.

Friday, October 5, 2018

MHS Biomedical Students Analyze Evidence

MHS PLTW Biomedical Students use Mac Laptops and iPads to analyze collected evidence in their year-long endeavor to determine of the cause of death of "Anna Garcia". 

Coming soon: PLTW Biomedical Short Film!

Monday, September 10, 2018

PLTW Biomedical: Crime Scene Forensic Investigation

Students in the Montrose High School PLTW Biomedical Sciences program (taught by Emarae Garcia and Shane Yanosky) learned about crime scene investigation and forensic science today with instruction from three Montrose Police Detectives. Students came to the library and found a "dead body" (known as Anna) in a staged crime scene, replete with evidence to be examined.

Montrose Detectives showed students how to document evidence, from fingerprints to measuring body position to photographing evidence. Later in the week, students will learn from the Deputy Coroner about the next stage of crime scene investigation, and what the body of Anna itself can tell us about the cause of death. Then, for the rest of the school year, students will learn a wide range of knowledge and skills that will aid in discovering Anna's cause of death.

Below are photos of the staged "crime scene" just before students arrived to investigate. Check back soon for a video of the Biomedical students in action, working to solve the case! Stay tuned . . .

Mr. Yanosky's students gather evidence:

Careful not to contaminate the crime scene, students take measurements for a sketched diagram.

Getting their hands dirty, students learn how to fingerprint.

Students learn how to photograph evidence from a variety of angles.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Monday, August 6, 2018

Peak Virtual Academy Junior Sam Green Wins 2018 ArcGIS Online Mapping Contest

Congratulations to Sam Green of Peak Virtual Academy, the 2018 ArcGIS Online Mapping Contest Colorado State winner! MCSD is very proud of your accomplishment, which took dedication, hard work and lots of problem-solving!

Sam Green, a junior at Peak Academy has won the 2018 ArcGIS Online Mapping Contest for US high school students for Colorado. Sam’s entry titled “Riparian Restoration Management Plan” was submitted to the State Leadership Team for judging. The five best submissions are recognized by the State and the best of those five moves on to compete in the National Competition. Sam’s work was chosen to represent Colorado versus twenty seven other States.

Check out Sam's ArcGIS Story Map

For Sam to successfully complete this STEM/Problem Based Learning initiative special thanks goes out to:

The students at Peak Academy that helped do research and collect data. The staff and administration of Peak Academy. Their help creating the time and resources needed for implementing this STEM/PBL was essential.

The Montrose County School District. Their commitment to STEM and Problem Based Learning Initiatives made all of this possible. Without this directive this would not have happened.

Our Community Partners:
The 3M Corporation – They supplied funding via a 3M EcoGrant
Justin Musser – Montrose County Ecological Services Manager
David Sinton – BLM GIS Specialist
Lisa Goetsch – Montrose County GIS Coordinator
Dr. Phillip Crossley – Western State Colorado University
Dr. Tammy Parece – Colorado Mesa University
Dr. John McGee – Virginia Tech
And everyone else that offered advice and technical expertise on how to not only build the story map but design and implement the management plan.

Check out the Montrose Daily Press article below:

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Career and Technical Education (CTE) Overview

A Career and Technical Education (CTE) overview from the Colorado Community College System:

Montrose County School District offers a wide variety of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, including:

Montrose High School:
Family & Consumer Science
Food Science Dietetics & Nutrition
Work Experience Studies
Agricultural Education
Automotive Technology
Business Education
Construction Technologies
Design & Visual Communications

Olathe High School:
Construction Trades
Business Education
Agricultural Education

For more information, please contact

Also, check out this CTE 101 video from

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

MCSD PBL Institute August 2018

MCSD will host a PBL Institute for Johnson, Cottonwood, Pomona and Oak Grove Elementary Schools August 21st - August 23rd

Northside and Olathe Elementary Schools will participate in PBL Institute 2.0

The PBL Institute will be held at the Montrose County Event Center

mindSpark Learning will partner with MCSD and will deliver a Keynote address on the August 21st to kick off the institute.

On Day 1, participants will learn about the Problem-based Learning and Design Thinking processes; in the afternoon, participants will rotate through three breakout sessions on Panel Presentations, Technology, and Identifying Problems and Linking to Standards.

On Day 2, participants will experience the PBL Process by working on an authentic, real-world local problem and presenting solutions to a panel.

On Day 3, participants will pitch their own PBL ideas and receive feedback before planning their PBL Lesson Plan for the 18-19 academic year.

Questions may be emailed to either or

August 2018 Colorado STEM Magazine

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Northside Elementary STEM Night 2018

On May 1st, 2018, Northside Elementary hosted its second annual STEM Night to showcase student learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and celebrate with family fun. Check out the video below for some of the highlights. Thanks to Northside STEM Coach Whitney Murphy, who organized this event!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Peak Academy Enters ArcGIS Online Mapping Contest

Click the link below for Peak Academy's submission to Esri’s ArcGIS Online Mapping Contest for Colorado Middle and High School Students.

"In 2017 the Montrose County School District was awarded a 3M EcoGrant targeting the management of invasive plant species in our community. This grant was distributed among three schools; Columbine and Centennial Middle Schools as well as Peak Academy. The grant was then used to create STEM/Problem Based Learning (PBL) initiatives managing invasive plants. Peak Academy students have created a riparian restoration management plan for a fifteen-hectare site near the Uncompahgre River within the city limits of Montrose, CO. We are currently embarking on year one of a five-year plan. The following story map details the progress made this past school year."

MCSD Students Receive Certificate of Completion in CMU CTE Nurse Aide Program

Students from Montrose and Olathe High Schools received Certificates of Completion in the CMU Nurse Aide Program during a ceremony with students, parents and administrators from clinical sites. Altogether, twenty-one students completed the two-semester program, in which students earned concurrent enrollment college credit while completing the program. 

The Nurse Aide program is one of several concurrent enrollment Career and Technical Education opportunities available to MCSD students at the CMU-Montrose campus. 

Congratulations Nurse Aide grads! 

Centennial Middle School S.T.E.A.M. Summer Camps 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

Johnson Elementary 5th Grade STEM Challenge

Check out the video below of the Johnson Elementary 5th Grade STEM Challenge. Students were learning about separating mixtures based on properties by designing and testing a filter to clean pollutants out of water.

Thanks to Kim Martin and Amy Berry!

Video by John Steele.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Design Thinking for Educators from IDEO

Interested in the Design Thinking Process?

David Kelley, founder of IDEO, discusses the Design Thinking process on CBS This Morning:

David Kelley's IDEO Website offers educators a free Design Thinking Toolkit download, with some amazing resources for teachers interested in using the Design Thinking Process. Check out IDEO Design Thinking Website and download the toolkit!


MCSD Weed Warrior Problem-Based Learning Initiative

Check out the MCSD Weed Warrior Site for updates about the 3M Grant Weed Warrior Problem-Based Learning Initiative!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Article from LocoRobo Innovations:

What STEM/STEAM College Readiness Looks Like
As a university professor who engages with high school students at university open houses, I often meet with students interested in entering into engineering, computer science and robotics programs. At a recent open house, one student I met made me think “I wish more students were as prepared as she is to take my classes. This is what college readiness looks like.

As a K-12 teacher or administrator, I am sure you find yourself thinking about shaping your classrooms to help students achieve college and career readiness by the time they graduate. Here are some key traits of the high school student that I mention above:

1) Experience with computer science related topics, projects and hardware that are being applied in college courses and modern industry

2) The ability to articulate her current experience and explain its specific relevance to the work we do in my lab and in my courses

3) The ability to process the exposure she has had and frame her knowledge in the grand scheme of things

4) An excitement to take her place in higher education combined with humility about the potential for college to expand her knowledge and prepare her for a career

I believe these traits can be developed in the K-12 stage of a student’s life if we provide them the depth, breadth and rigor through a modern pedagogical approach:
  • Teacher + student centered pedagogy
  • Differentiated learning
  • Subject matter treatment grows in depth as students spend more time
  • Project-based and collaborative learning
  • Foundational concepts within a modern, industry standard environment
Learn More
Pramod Abichandani, CEO and Founder of LocoRobo Innovations Inc, is passionate about finding ways to bring modern technology out of the lab and into K-12 curriculum.

Monday, January 22, 2018

GIS with CMU Professor Tammy Parece

On January 11th, 2017, CMU Professor Dr. Tammy Parece met with MCSD teachers to discuss GIS (Geographic Information System). Dr. Parece graciously shared a wide variety of resources for teachers to begin using various GIS tools in the classroom. Dr. Parece is willing to return to MCSD for a more extensive training. If you are interested in this, please contact John Steele.

For the full shared folder of resources, click here.

Here's Dr. Parece's presentation outline from January 11th:

Here are Five GIS Activities you can do in five minutes:

Here's a collection of GIS resources for educators:

Friday, January 19, 2018

InvenTeams STEM Grant from MIT

Check out the InvenTeams Grant opportunity for STEM educators below:

"Inspiring a new generation of inventors.
Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams™ are comprised of high school students, educators, and mentors that receive up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing. STEM educators from the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and territories of the U.S. may apply."

Remember, before applying for a grant, you should first fill out a Grant Request form from the MCSD District Office. Contact John Steele or Jessica Beller for more information. 

Welcome to the New MCSD STEM Blog!

The Montrose County School District welcomes you to the new online home of all things STEM and PBL!

Here you will find regular updates on all the MCSD STEM and PBL news as well as teacher resources.

Please bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.