STEM in the News
Four STEM in Action Programs Funded
Colorado is dedicated to ensuring that our students have the education and experiences to prepare them for success in college, career and life in an information-based economy. The Colorado Blueprint identified 14 key industry sectors for Colorado and further identified that 12 of them would require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and Colorado will see higher growth in STEM sector jobs than the national average. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is joined by key partners such as the Governor’s office and the Colorado Legacy Foundation in developing a strategic plan to ensure every student has access to the quality instruction and experiences they need to be successful in college, career and life, regardless of career choice.
To support this endeavor, CDE’s Race to the Top (RTTT) Office has awarded four STEM in Action grants. This grant program addresses one of the primary foci under the RTTT grant - increasing access to STEM education across the state. The program was informed by existing research that identified areas of need such as rural and underserved populations; the STEM in Action RFP focused on serving these populations through partnerships with industry and other education entities.
There were 29 applications submitted as part of this competitive grant program. Four grants were selected.
Boulder Valley School District Re-2- Mountain Schools
Four rural schools will engage in a 2-year Stem in Action academic enrichment project that addresses the specific needs of 600+ rural students. These schools currently have limited resources for STEM education, and data shows that student achievement in secondary math and science is well below district averages. The project's goals are to: improve student attitudes and beliefs about STEM studies and careers; to improve student academic achievement in math and science; and to increase secondary student enrollment in advanced STEM courses. STEM in Action at the mountain schools also aims to build the capacity of teachers to provide relevant, inquiry-based, multi-disciplinary, personalized instruction in the STEM disciplines. The Mountain Schools' project will do so by building and delivering two specific, detailed units of study for each level, (elementary, middle, high) that connect STEM in the classroom to relevant, real-life, hands-on experiences for rural students.
Centennial BOCES proposed a collaborative between 2 universities and 4 industries to promote and enhance STEM teaching and learning in rural Morgan and Weld counties. By participating in high quality PD learning opportunities provided through 3-day Nature Inspired STEM Institutes each summer, and by receiving ongoing coaching and mentoring throughout the school year, 35 secondary teachers will increase their knowledge, skills and capacity to connect an estimated 3500 secondary students to STEM learning within the context of the natural world. Because the program is designed to build and strengthen collaboration and partnerships with local STEM experts, sustainability will be made possible by the professional relationships and networks developed over the 2 years of the grant. The ultimate goal of the program is to ignite students' passion and interest in pursuing STEM careers. The proposed activities and resources offered through the grant will provide unique, inspiring opportunities for STEM learning in rural, underrepresented Colorado communities.
Lake County School District
LCSD has crafted the attached STEM in Action proposal in an attempt to bring technology and the real world of STEM into the classroom, thereby enabling teachers to offer Expanded Learning Opportunities to students, while also bringing students and teachers out into the community around us (Keystone Science School, and local industry), to experience STEM through partnerships. They requested support from CDE’s Race to the Top to ramp up technology in the classroom, provide superior professional development for teachers in Science, and bring students into the outdoor classrooms of Keystone Science School, where students will engage in inquiry-based learning activities.
Mountain Valley School District
The Mountain Valley School District proposes a STEM in Action program utilizing youth and community outreach in combination with cross-curricular planning, to engage students in on-site lab experience, and multi-year capstone projects in STEM. These efforts will improve academic skill transfer, increase critical thinking, promote interest in STEM, and engage the community through mentoring, expert instruction, and project supervision and support. Program developers plan to identify community needs through formal assessment and to engage youth in data analysis, critical thinking, and resource utilization to identify STEM projects that address those community needs. By engaging youth leaders as elementary school mentors, and hosting an annual STEM fair at Adams State University for 3-7 graders, they expect an increase in exposure and to stimulate early interest in STEM. The proposed 3 phase approach addresses 1) Infrastructure development, 2) student and community engagement, and 3) elementary school outreach.