Westfield Washington Schools has been awarded nearly $75,000 in STEM Integration grant funding from the Indiana Dept. of Education.
The grant will support Hoosier schools in integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction and learning opportunities into the classroom, improving access and support for Hoosier students, according to the IDOE. Westfield Washington Schools was among 48 school districts and charter schools across Indiana that received grant funding.
The STEM Integration grant is a competitive grant that helps schools increase students’ access to STEM courses, programs and resources. It focuses on helping schools integrate research-based, high-quality coursework, instructional materials and professional development for educators that helps build a culture of STEM leadership in schools, according to the IDOE.
Westfield Washington Schools plans to use the funding in various ways, including purchasing new instructional technology, curriculum development and teacher professional development, said Christian Horner, a technology integration specialist with the district.
The bulk of the funds from the STEM Integration Grant will go toward purchasing one Ozobot EVO Robot classroom pack of 18 robots and purchasing one Sphero BOLT classroom pack of 15 robots for each of the six elementary schools. This will put a total of 108 programmable EVO robots and 90 Sphero Bolt robots into the hands of students from kindergarten through 4th grade,” Horner said. “In addition, Westfield Intermediate School will receive two class packs of Sphero Bolt robots so 5th and 6th-grade students can program and create exciting projects based on robotics without the need to share equipment.”
“Horner added that a portion of the funds will allow STEM and classroom teachers to meet several times from February to June to develop a STEM-based curriculum that meets the needs of students as they progress from kindergarten through 6th grade.
The remainder of funds will go toward professional development for six elementary-based STEM teachers as they attend the National Science Teachers Convention in April. At the conference, the teachers will share space with educators of all experience levels and backgrounds to delve into pedagogy, explore new ideas and best practices and revitalize their passion for STEM education, Horner said.
Other than Westfield Washington Schools, Carmel Clay Schools was the other Hamilton County school district that received STEM Integration grant funding totaling $99,804, according to the IDOE. In a statement, Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner lauded the benefits of STEM education for children.
“Through STEM education, our students are building skills that will serve them throughout their life, including problem solving, critical thinking, communication and digital literacy skills,” Jenner said. “We also know that these important skills are essential to meeting the needs of our state’s future workforce. The STEM Integration grant helps Indiana schools continue to grow their capacity to provide high-quality STEM education, provide early exposure to STEM career opportunities and ultimately, set students on the best possible path for future success, both in life and in their career.”