Four school districts in Southeast Tennessee have the opportunity to spread best practices in STEM education within their schools thanks to a new investment from the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub, a hub of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. Hamilton County, Monroe County, Bradley County, and Maryville City Schools have each been awarded a $10,000 Vertical Alignment grant from the STEM Hub and coordinated through the Public Education Foundation.
The purpose of the grants is to foster collaboration and coordination of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum and programs from kindergarten through twelfth grade within a school district. Mike Winstead, Assistant Director of Schools for the Maryville City Schools stated, “We are excited about implementing our plan to inspire students through STEM in every K-5 classroom in Maryville. I am confident that it will help us make a huge leap forward in what we are trying to do in STEM.”
Any public school district in the Southeast Tennessee region was eligible to apply, and proposals were required to include two or more schools, one of which could be a post-secondary partner. “We received a range of applications, and these were a reflection of our region’s diverse and ambitious approaches to improving STEM education for our students,” said Keri Randolph, Director of Learning for the STEM Hub. Proposals were required to exhibit collaboration among school teams, implementation of problem/project-based learning, as well as integration of business and/or community partners.
Full proposals are available at setennesseestem.org. The four winners are below.
- STEAM Rising: Bringing STEM Education to Red Bank Schools (Red Bank Elementary, Red Bank Middle School, and Red Bank High School): The grant focuses on establishing cross-school professional learning communities allowing educators to discuss and study STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) in the classroom and its impact on student learning. Participants will develop STEAM units for implementation in grades K-12 as well as help develop a community-wide STEM night where students and families will be able to learn more about STEM and the multitude of jobs available within the STEM career fields. Teachers will also participate in job shadows in local businesses to witness STEM skills being used in the workplace.
- STEM Crosses Over (Bradley County: Parkview Elementary School, Ocoee Middle School and Walker Valley High School): Target schools will expand existing STEM Teams to develop a STEM Vertical Alignment Plan, as well as establish a STEM Vertical Alignment Steering Committee designed to bring together teachers, students, parents, business and community partners to advise on alignment efforts. Teachers will participate in a variety of STEM professional development opportunities provided by the Southeast Tennessee STEM Innovation Hub, business partners, post-secondary partner institutions, and teachers. The proposal also includes funds for trips to local businesses, post-secondary partner institutions, and STEM competitions. Older students will partner with younger students across the K-12 schools to provide transition support from grade to grade.
- STEM Advantage Club (Monroe County Schools: Madisonville Intermediate School, Madisonville Middle School and Sequoyah High School): This grant will provide after-school activities designed to increase students’ engagement in STEM activities, create a STEM professional development community across schools, and close the gap in learning mastery for disadvantaged students. The professional development community of teachers will provide supports for STEM activities to be implemented in all classrooms. A portion of the funding will be used to provide 100 hours of after-school STEM project based activities for disadvantaged students.
- STEM to the Core (Maryville City Schools: all elementary and intermediate schools): Grant activities will focus on training in STEM instructional practices and STEM vertical alignment, establishment of a professional learning community process for continued program development, visits to exemplary STEM programs, and implementation of an integrated problem/project based learning activity for each grade K-5. Maryville City Schools Foundation and First to the Top funds will also be used to supplement the grant award.