$10K SOAR grant awarded to Licking Schools


                                                                                                                                                                           Photo by Shari Harris
From left, Benn Sullins, David Hosick, Supt. Cristina Wright and Autumn Case met for the official grant presentation on Monday, March 2.
By Shari Harris
Co-Publisher

LICKING, Mo. - David Hosick, senior program director of Project Lead the Way at Missouri S&T, presented a SOAR grant in the amount of $10,000 to Licking’s Jr. High STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) instructor Benn Sullins, Elementary STEM instructor Autumn Case and Supt. Cristina Wright last week. The grant is to assist in the development of STEM programs in elementary and junior high school in order to enhance the educational opportunities for students in STEM education.
The Missouri General Assembly approved funding to expand access to PLTW for our region, known collectively as the Southern Alliance for Rural Development (SOAR). Hosick has been distributing those funds to schools that apply for them in the SOAR area, which includes Carter, Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Reynolds, Texas, Wright and Wayne counties. Hosick credits Rep. Karla Eslinger, 155th District, with pursuing further funding to develop and widen these programs. With development of skills in STEM, students should be better equipped to meet the demands of the workforce of the future. This fits into Gov. Michael Parson’s Workforce Development Program.
Hosick reached out to Supt. Cristina Wright at a local meeting to discuss STEM grant funding. Wright says, “The goal of the outreach was to help students understand that STEM education is relevant in their lives and to see the potential for future careers.”
Case and Sullins are already setting their programs in motion. In January, Case developed a 4th-6th grade Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS) program. The program is designed to expand girls’ interests in STEM, as they more often overlook these fields. Plans are to expand to a program that can include boys and girls over time. So far in the extra-curricular program, students have built catapults and math escape rooms. The group meets twice each month and ten girls are currently participating. Case hopes to increase to 20 girls next year.
Sullins teaches a one quarter STEM class for all seventh graders. The class is trying new technology to develop interests in STEM. Currently they are being introduced to coding and circuitry with Raspberry Pi stations (the Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer), Scratch (a programming language that can be used to make interactive stories, games and animations) and Python (a programming language). Sullins would like to develop a robotics program if the interest is there. Next year, he plans to start a junior high STEM club.
Supt. Wright delineated the criteria used to select resources to be purchased with the grant. Case and Sullins focused on:
• Their ability to be utilized across the greatest range of grade levels;
• The inclusion of a pre-built curriculum that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards;
• Having an established online community of both hobbyists and educators;
• Having a low entry for success but high potential for growth and creative expression; and
• Fostering collaboration and communication among students.
Six resources chosen that meet these criteria include Lego WeDo sets, Little Bits kits, Makey Makeys, Raspberry Pi computer stations, Arduino kits and 3D printers.
PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum for students pre-kindergarten through high school through career pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. Missouri S&T has been the statewide PLTW affiliate for Missouri since the national program began in 1997 and has trained thousands of teachers through the program since that time. (Missouri S&T).

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