About This Grant:
BOISE, Idaho (Jan. 11, 2017) — The Idaho STEM Action Center just awarded more than a quarter-million dollars in PK12 grants to education professionals and organizations throughout the state. The grants provide recipients – such as kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, libraries, and out-of-school organizations – with up to $2,500 each to fund innovative science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer-science projects.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said the effort is fueling an array of creative and exciting STEM-learning opportunities. “The hands-on, project-based activities the STEM Action Center’s grants enable will engage and inspire the scientists, engineers and technicians of tomorrow,” Gov. Otter said. “Experiential learning efforts like these are critical to building Idaho’s future workforce.”
Approved projects range from electronics and robotics, drones and solar cars, and anatomy and physiology equipment like microscopes and plastic models to water-quality testing kits for analyzing fish habitats, camera trap systems for studying birds and mammals, and augmented reality systems to explore earth sciences concepts.
Totaling $253,448.59, the 109 PK12 grants are the first round of awards the STEM Action Center has announced in fiscal year 2017, which began July 1, 2016. During its 2016 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2016, the agency delivered more than $250,000 in aid to Idaho organizations and individuals to fund STEM efforts, including $50,000 for PK12 grants and $35,000 for family STEM events. Last year’s grants also fueled professional development opportunities for educators, as well as robotics and 3D design and fabrication competitions.
Conceived in the Office of the Governor, the Idaho STEM Action Center was approved during the 2015 legislative session to help produce a competitive workforce by implementing K-through-career science, technology, engineering, and math education programs aligned with industry needs. During the 2016 session, the Idaho Legislature set the STEM Action Center’s annual budget at $2.4 million, appropriated $2 million into a STEM Education Fund to help start up local STEM programs, and approved the addition of a computer science program manager to oversee the Computer Science Initiative.
Angela Hemingway, the center’s executive director, said it’s an exciting time to be involved in STEM education in Idaho. “STEM knowledge and skills are important to the future of Idaho’s economy and long-term prosperity,” she said. “STEM-related jobs pay well in Idaho, and for each new STEM job five more jobs are created.
“The experiential learning that occurs in these types of STEM activities promotes creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration — skills even students who don’t pursue STEM careers will find valuable. When Idahoans think STEM, we want them to think Idaho STEM Action Center. Our goal is to make our agency the go-to place in the Gem State for STEM resources, grants, professional development, and student competitions.”