Check out these 14 ‘entrepreneur’ grants for STEM education

Washington STEM, a nonprofit that supports science, technology, engineering, and math education across the state, has awarded 14 grants to educators in Washington. The one-year investments are used to encourage teachers to pilot new ideas that could be used to bolster STEM education.

“My female students use to think that building robots was just for boys,” said, Dave Neale, a seventh-grade science and automation and robotics teacher and lead of the Team GEAR Heads, an all-girl robotics club at Mountainside Middle School in Colbert that received an Entrepreneur Award. “Our club makes it cool for girls to be into math and science.” The next round of applications are due May 3.

Here’s a look at the 14 recipients with descriptions from Washington STEM.

Bremerton High School: “As part of a broader district, higher education, and industry effort to improve PreK-20 STEM education, Bremerton High School will convert the 9th grade Physical Science curriculum into a mandatory project-based Engineering course. Funding will enable professional development and common planning time for eight teachers to develop projects, connect with industry partners, and align the curriculum to the common core standards.”

Cheney Middle School: “Approximately 150 students will conduct field investigations around the source, quality, processing, and distribution of their community water supply. Funding will provide essential equipment for students to test and gather data on water pollutants and bacteria in their drinking water as well as in local streams and run-off.”

Feiro Marine Life Center: ”Seniors at Port Angeles High School and the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center will be engaged in field-based science investigations and service-learning projects to explore local ecosystems and topics related to natural resources.”

Glacier Peak High School: “This project encourages and models collaboration between schools and industry in an effort to address global issues around health and hunger. Building off of a prior Entrepreneur Award to Cleveland High School, students from both schools will study and culture algae products utilizing a variety of research techniques, including flow cytometry, to explore innovations in algae production that may be used as a food source to alleviate global hunger as well as for biofuels.”

Gonzaga University Spokane: “This is a four-week, summer residency experience designed specifically for high-school juniors from Native American, under-represented, and/or rural high schools. With support from university faculty, students will be immersed in a research project of their own design in the laboratories of Gonzaga University.”

Mathematics Education Collaborative: “The Mathematics Education Collaborative will develop and implement an effective training-of-trainer model of professional development toward implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics around commonly misunderstood concepts related to Ratio and Proportional Reasoning and the associated Standards of Mathematical Practice.”

Monroe Public Schools: “Traditionally low-performing and underserved students will design and build a hydroponic system and test its efficacy. Students will use modern hydroponics equipment to collect, record, and analyze data concerning the plants they are growing, and all food products will be given back to the community through the food bank.”

Mount St. Helens Institute: “This project will partner students from six school districts with USGS scientists investigating ecological restoration on the slopes of Mount St. Helens where they will gather data using a variety of field research techniques and tools. These data will be shared across multiple schools and will be used to guide and complement in-class studies.”

Mountainside Middle School: “This after-school program is designed to encourage middle school girls to become more involved in STEM disciplines. Using Minds-i robotics kits and curriculum resources, Team GEAR Heads will explore automation and robotics through thought-provoking, challenging, and innovative activities. They will host an all-girls robotics competition allowing teams to build STEM self-confidence in a supported, educational arena.”

Rainier Beach High School: “By engaging students in real-world ecology issues in their local community, this project will teach students critical thinking and problem solving skills, provide teachers with STEM pedagogical knowledge, and will help build student-teacher relationships.”

Saghalie High School: “The Inside-Out Education Project enables Saghalie Middle School students and teachers to expand their learning environment beyond the classroom to include the surrounding urban school neighborhood and local businesses to motivate and engage students in learning. Students will explore environmental issues affecting their local community, choose a business partner, and develop an investigation into one of these issues.”

Tacoma Public Schools: “Through the integration of hands-on Elementary Engineers curricula with their FOSS Science kits, Tacoma Public Schools seeks to motivate students, particularly those in underserved communities, to pursue additional math and science courses in secondary school. Furthermore, as students create designs and test alternative solutions, the critical thinking and problem-solving skills and processes will result in increased student achievement in math and science.”

Tierra Madre Fund: “This project seeks to blend technology skills development with cultural and linguistic preservation amongst high-needs Native American students from the Lushootseed peoples. Guided by industry professionals and cultural leaders, students will collaboratively develop computer games that will facilitate native language acquisition amongst younger students. Community elders will advise on essential words and phrases while also conducting field trips to learn of native plants, including their medicinal and cultural uses.”

Woodland Park Zoo: “The ZooCrew project will work with community-based organizations (CBOs) like the YMCA to reach underserved middle school students with inquiry-based, after-school science investigations. With assistance of STEM industry professionals, community issues such as water and air quality will be explored through data gathering and analysis as well as reflections on how these issues affect the broader community.”