Teachers have a daunting task of continually finding engaging ways to educate their students, and when it comes to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects, that task can be even tougher. But for more than a decade, educators from around the state have risen to the challenge to engage their students through highly interactive, hands-on STEM projects through the APS and Phoenix Suns STEM mini-grant program which began accepting applications on August 27 for the 2018-2019 school year.
APS and the Phoenix Suns have contributed more than $500,000 throughout the programs existence to amplify STEM education in Arizona schools, by offering grants of up to $2,500 each with a total of up to $50,000 available during the 2018-2019 school year.
During the 2017-2018 school year, the program saw one teacher using retinal scanning equipment in his architectural class, which also allowed a student with cerebral palsy to draw architectural designs. Another teacher utilized the funding to teach his students how to engineer science lab tables out of standard PVC pipe, and another taught students how to program robots and utilize sensors to make them autonomous. Just a few of the many amazing projects teachers have implemented with the mini-grants.
Arizona K-12 teachers in public and charter schools within APS service territory are invited to apply for STEM mini-grants so they can bring these innovative programs and projects to life. The annual application period closes on October 1 with awardees learning of their grant awards in November.
“The APS/Suns grant allowed us to expand our offerings so we could get materials needed for an introductory and advanced robotics after-school class,” said Joel Wisser, who has been teaching computer programming and app design in the Saddle Mountain Unified School District for five years. “We were able to purchase 12 robotic kits plus a gaming field which is allowing these kids to learn programming, how to incorporate sensors and making the robots autonomous. It’s teaching team building and problem-solving skills that they will use well beyond their school years.”
Teachers are invited to visit aps.com/stem for program procedures, criteria and STEM mini-grants applications. There, they will also find a list of project summaries from past school years. Applications will be accepted online and all recipients will be notified of the status of their application by the first week of November.