Students will be able to build and animate a lion out of Legos, learn how bridges hold weight and design and code their own video games through a new program coming to Franklin schools.

The Franklin Education Connection was awarded a nearly $20,000 grant from the Branigin Foundation, which is being used to hire employees from Sylvan Learning Center to teach STEM curriculum they already have developed, said Greg Moore, owner of the Franklin Sylvan Learning Center.

More than 100 Franklin students will be taught the lessons by the end of the school year in the after-school program. The curriculum is meant to introduce students to STEM properties, said Moore, who also is on the board of directors for the Franklin Education Foundation.

Students need STEM skills for jobs that they will be asked to do later in life, Moore said.

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“We need a better trained workforce to do the jobs of tomorrow,” Moore said.

Students will first be introduced to basic STEM principles and then move onto hands-on, grade-specific curriculum, Moore said.

Elementary-aged students will build a lion out of Legos and will learn basic robotics software that will make the lion move, Moore said.

Custer Baker Intermediate School students will learn how bridges are built and then build bridges of their own.

And Franklin Community Middle School students will learn about video game coding and then will design and build their own video games, Moore said. Students will be able to put their video games on websites, where they will be able to tweak and play the games, even after their Sylvan classes end, Moore said.

“It allows them to get critical thinking skills without knowing they are doing it,” he said.

Organizers of Cub Quest, Franklin’s after-school enrichment program, have been looking for ways to offer STEM lessons to students, said Bill Doty, Franklin schools director of operations.

Community members, parents and students also have been asking for STEM lessons, but the cost of with supplies, technology and software are high, Doty said.

“Unfortunately, these classes, there is so much technology and equipment, it costs money,” he said.

Franklin Education Foundation board members wanted to find a way to make STEM lessons affordable, said Dustin Huddleston, vice president of the board of directors.

“If people are out there trying to enhance the STEM projects, we are trying to get money to figure out how do that,” he said.

For the past few years, the Franklin Education Foundation has received grants to help build STEM projects and curriculum at the high school and middle school, including starting a robotics club at the middle school and high school and starting a program focused on STEM lessons for elementary-aged girls, Huddleston said.

Implementing after-school programs also can be difficult because many teachers don’t have the time to devote to those programs, he said.

“If we can get the funds, it is sometimes hard for teachers to commit to the time after school,” he said.

The Franklin Education Connection also received $5,000 for health wellness classes at Johnson Memorial Hospital.

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Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.