Engineering the future: Lincoln Elementary gets STEM center

Devon Energy, Flogistix and Marathon Oil partnered with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to bring Lincoln Elementary School students a high-tech STEM center. Community leaders celebrated the installation on Thursday.

STEM ribbon cutting
Lincoln Elementary Principal Tammy Peterson and Dickinson Public School Superintendant Marcus Lewton cut the ribbon for the school's new STEM center.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — Oilfield corporations Flogistix, Devon Energy and Marathon Oil joined forces to sponsor a Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation effort to establish their first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Center in North Dakota at Lincoln Elementary School. School officials celebrated the new learning opportunities it will bring with an assembly and ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, the first day of school.

Caitlin Kurtz, the foundation’s STEM education coordinator, said the center came at a cost of approximately $32,500. The Center includes a brand new 3D printer, snap circuits, Bee-Bots and Ozobots that will push students to improve their problem solving and critical thinking skills. She noted the foundation has plans to bring these centers to the other elementary schools in Dickinson as well.

STEM Center 2
A student plays with the school's new snap circuits.
Contributed / Sarah Trustem

The Ozobots are small robotic balls that move across a piece of paper in different ways based on the color and trajectory of lines. They have other uses outside of STEM that will help engage students with their curriculum. The school’s Library Media Specialist Marisa Riesinger said she’ll be using them in class when students draw maps for social studies or chart emotions for a story that’s being read.

“We're tying in a lot of literature and informational texts, using that as purposeful and intentional play within the STEM lab. The possibilities are endless,” Reisinger said.

This center is one of 222 established by the foundation across 18 states. The library’s new 3D printer has already produced a toy cat, key chain and a pair of dice. Tim Bancells, the foundation’s assistant STEM director, said they have an annual convention where students are challenged to seek out and solve real world problems. One example that stood out to him was a group of students helping a classmate with a disability.


STEM Center 1
Dickinson City Commissioner Suzy Sobolik shows students how to use a Bee-Bot.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press

“He did not have a hand. So they 3D printed a hand. And their challenge to themselves was that they had to make it good enough so he could hold a glass of water. They were actually able to connect it… He was able to pick up and move the glass,” Bancells said. “It was elementary school kids thinking of that and I’m like wow, that’s way more than I could think of.”

Principal Tammy Peterson said they’ve been dabbling in STEM activities for the past three to five years but have struggled to fully integrate it into the curriculum in a way that boosts proficiency.

“This is a great opportunity where we have the tools now so it can become part of our daily teaching with so many opportunities for students. This is their future and we want to make sure that they’re career ready,” Peterson said. “We are a building of just under 400 students. So to receive this opportunity, it was definitely a blessing.”

STEM assembly
Lincoln Elementary School students during the STEM center assembly.
Contributed / Sarah Trustem
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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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