Minnesota Department of Education awards STEM grant to District 834

We are pleased that District 834 secondary schools were recently awarded up to $20,000 for a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) grant from the Minnesota Department of Education. The grant, which was awarded in the Digital Content category, is designed to introduce an innovative Web-based content management system. This system will enable the creation of reproducible research partnerships and scientific peer review processes using digital cameras, video cameras, digital microscopes, probes and other research gathering tools that will be used in authentic research activities. Results and data from these activities will be published by students to the management system for collaboration and peer review with other students, schools and educational partners at the local, state, national and international level.
STEM grants are part of the National Governor’s Association Grants given to the Minnesota Department of Education to fund development of model digital content programs in mathematics and science. The purpose of the incentive grants is to increase the number of teachers instructing with digital content in mathematics and science. Model programs, like the Stillwater program, will increase the involvement in technology-based collaborations for high school students. A long-term goal is to increase student interest in mathematics and science.
During the 2004-06 school years, the Stillwater Area Public Schools science program has undergone a complete curricular and technology review. All of the K-12 science curriculums were aligned to meet state and national standards. This time-intensive assessment provided extensive and documented needs in the area of staff training, curriculum development and technology support. In response, textbooks were adopted and new technologies were purchased including digital microscopes, cameras, probes, projection equipment and laptop computers. The curriculum review indicated that additional support is required in two important areas: staff training on curricular integration using technology; and a means to produce, publish and share research findings from student work. The STEM grant will allow Stillwater’s secondary science and math teachers to move forward in these areas.
The implementation of the Web-based content management system has sustainability in the Stillwater Area Schools not only in science, but in other curricular areas as well. The use of digital technology equipment and Web-based publishing align with the district’s long-range technology plan. Science lends itself to sharing digital media and data through microscopes equipped with digital cameras and probes recording titration data, to name a few. This data can then be shared with partners completing the same research, or be published for others to view and critique. Slight variations of this same process can be used in other curricular areas including mathematics, music, theatre, English, physical education and health, creating a collaborative system of learners.
The STEM grant will provide technical assistance and training on how to utilize digital resources, how to improve teaching practices and how to successfully use technology-based student programs in the classroom. In addition, grant funding will allow the purchase of digital equipment including cameras, digital video cameras, computers and Web cameras for Stillwater and partner schools to be used in the project.

Questions can be e-mailed to ryskoskik@stillwater.k12.mn.us or sent on a postcard to Keith Ryskoski, Stillwater Area Public Schools, and 1875 South Greeley Street, Stillwater, MN 55082. “Talk of the District” is also a cable television program that is filmed twice a month and shown several times a week. Contact your local cable access center to find out the days/times it airs in your area. Register for Stillwater Area Public Schools E-News at www. stillwater.k12.mn.us and click on E-News Bureau.

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