2014 STEM Grants

MISF awarded STEM Grants totaling more than $122,000 to 33 MISF member schools for projects to be implemented during the 2014-15 school year. Following is a list of the Innovation and Starter Grant awardees and their projects

Innovation Grants

Assumption Catholic School

Bethlehem Academy

Calvin Christian School

Cotter Schools

Gethsemane Lutheran School

Holy Spirit School

Lourdes High School

St. Anastasia School

St. Croix Catholic School

St. Croix Lutheran School

St. Croix Montessori School

St. James School

St. Jude of the Lake School

St. Paul Preparatory School

St. Vincent de Paul School

Totino Grace High School

Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori

Starter Grants

Blessed Trinity School

City of Lakes Waldorf School

Crucifixion Catholic School

Good Shepherd Catholic School

Holy Trinity School

Most Holy Redeemer School

Pine Harbor Christian Academy

Saint Boniface School

The Whole Learning School

Innovation Grants

Innovation Grants are awarded for projects that clearly employ authentic learning strategies and integrate STEM academic subjects (science and math) with appropriate technology within an engineering or scientific discovery framework; use assessments that require students to analyze the results of their learning experience and communicate their analysis to others; connect classroom learning to STEM resources and experiences outside school; and lay a foundation for systemic change in the STEM program at the recipient school, or enhance and expand an existing STEM program.

Academy of Holy Angels

Hibbing

Catapults Away

Our project is to integrate STEM learning through catapult design into a kindergarten through sixth grade curriculum. The project will also give the students the opportunity to work with construction materials and the design, build, and test process in the classroom. Local engineers will come to talk about the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math as related to catapults and our everyday life.
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Bethlehem Academy

Faribault

Introduction to Engineering Course

Students in this course will be introduced to the design process through mechanical engineering, basic software coding, and electrical engineering. Students will also explore career opportunities in the engineering field. The design process will be taught through the first unit of mechanical engineering using physics and math concepts to build an object. After prototype testing is completed, students will construct their object using our newly acquired 3D Printer. The second unit will be an introduction to coding using robots that students can program. Snapping the pieces of a robot together takes some skill, but the real learning will take place when students put their logic to the test in programming commands for the robot. Electrical engineer majors are a scarcity right now, so our third unit will hopefully “spark” some interest among our students. In this unit, students will review basic circuit design using circuit kits. Students will then put their skills to the test in designing a multi-function LED flashlight. In a final project students will work in small groups to create something using knowledge and skills learned in two of the three units in the course.

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Calvin Christian School

Edina

Aerospace Engineering Exploration

Calvin Christian Middle School’s science, math, and technology teachers will be creating an integrated project-based inquiry Aerospace Engineering Unit.  This unit will answer the essential question, “How do engineers use science, math, and technology to design effective parachutes?”  Topics include: principles of flight and motion, the history and importance of aerospace engineering to society, spacecraft design, data collection and interpretation, and collaboration with peers and professionals.  The students’ capstone project is a middle-school-student-led and designed STEM night for elementary students in the Calvin community.  Middle school students will share their acquired knowledge with younger students in an inquiry-based, hands-on activity night at our school.  Our goal is that this will become an annual event.

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Cotter Schools

Winona

Robot Engineering

This project will engage students in grades 4 through 8 in an authentic, integrated study of robotics using LEGO Mindstorms. The project will bring the topic of robotic engineering to a truly understandable level, in which students will gain a deeper understanding of robotics, and the role they play in society, our local community, and ultimately as a possible career choice. Students will actively discover the forms of robotics, why robotics are important, and how these forms of robotics can be used today and altered in the future.  They will be introduced to different modes of robotics with a wide range of variables, debate on the proper uses of robotics using investigative reporting, mathematics, technology and writing to justify and defend their views.  Students will create robots and design various programs to manipulate their robot for multiple uses and utilize these models to explain how it can be implemented in full scale models.

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Gethsemane Lutheran School

Maplewood

Beyond the Piece of Paper

This project will add a third unit to our three-year middle school STEM rotation: 3D Printing. The 3D Printing Unit ties into the two previous MISF STEM grant projects, Architectural Design and Bridge Design, and brings the most current technology to our students. This grant takes them to a level that matches the current technology. The previous two grant projects allowed us to work with the Fab Lab at Century College where we realized the incredible possibilities of 3-D printing. Unfortunately, we were only able to have a select few of the student designs printed. Additionally limiting, the students were not able to witness the 3-D printers in-action. The new grant initiative would allow all students access to 3-D printing opportunities.

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Holy Spirit School

St. Paul

Feeding the Future

Our project is to create sustainable educational gardens to be used by students ranging from kindergarten through grade eight.  These gardens will provide students with an active experience learning where their food originates from, how important plants are to their health and the essential component plants play in our environment. We will create two gardens. In one we will grow food which the Minnesota Department of Health has granted us permission to use in our lunch program, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green beans and other foods that could be served to students. Students will choose the foods to grow, plant the seeds, care for the plants in the greenhouse, transplant them into raised beds and then harvest the food. Students will also learn about composting and will use the compost to fertilize the plants. The second garden will focus on flowers and plants that will attract such things as butterflies, specifically Painted Lady Butterflies. Students will conduct research to determine what plants are necessary in the garden as well as to care for and maintain it. Several grades will use butterflies as part of the science curriculum and this would provide students with the opportunity to experience them in their natural habitat.

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Lourdes High School

Rochester

Investigating the Use of Renewable Energy Technologies

The impetus for investigating the use of renewable energy technologies for Rochester Catholic Schools elementary sites is environmental stewardship and reducing energy costs across our system.  Our students will analyze data, calculate rates, design a system and present their findings back to our community. The students will also examine the peak load rate in Rochester vs. State and National rates for comparison and determine the feasibility of each school. They will have the help of mentors from Rochester Public Utilities and Solar Connection, Inc. These community partners will be available to provide resources, data, skills, technical assistance and design concepts to students and teachers throughout the project.

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St. Anastasia School

Hutchinson

Vegetable Gardening

The third grade has developed a unit involving two hoop greenhouses, raised garden beds, and hay bale gardening with the support of a $500 grant we received in 2011-2012 from Meeker County Light and Power Association. The students plant a variety of vegetables in greenhouses and in the hay bales outside their classroom windows. They take care of the plants throughout their life cycle and eventually harvest them. Throughout the growing season, they conduct a number of experiments, measure the results, and record the outcomes. This MISF STEM Grant will enable the teachers to enhance this project by consulting with a master gardener, updating and connecting the greenhouses, and obtaining additional materials (plastic for the green house, fresh hay bales, seeds, gardening tools, etc.). The goal is to refine the lesson plans and experiments to meet the Minnesota math and science standards.

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St. Croix Catholic School

Stillwater

Let There Be Light!

Is it feasible for the Bwambo Health Center to eliminate its reliance on the Tanzanian government-run electrical grid? Can the center create enough electricity from solar energy to meet the needs of the center?  Can the center do this within its given budget? St. Croix Catholic School will partner with Mission Doctors Association’s Bwambo Health Center in Tanzania to determine if it’s feasible to replace the government-run electrical grid with locally based solar-powered electricity.

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St. Croix Lutheran School

West St. Paul

The Sound of Science

AP Physics students will conduct a sound design study to assess the acoustics and sound design of our current music facilities to measure the current design’s impact on students and instructors. Students will share these findings with students in music classes and the findings will also inform the design of the new fine arts center. AP Chemistry students will conduct a similar study of air temperature throughout the school, the results of which will be used in the design of new facilities.

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St. Croix Montessori School

Stillwater

From Greenhouse to Garden to Table

Elementary students will build a greenhouse in the outdoor environment adjacent to their classroom. Adding a greenhouse will allow the students to bring their work in the classroom full circle. Currently, the students have organized composting in their own classroom and extended composting to the Primary classrooms as well as the greater SCMS community. The greenhouse and an additional composting container will allow the students to use the composted material to grow plants for the garden, as well as maintain a variety of plants to use for botany lessons and experiments. In the past, students have attempted to start seedlings in the classroom to use for our school garden boxes and gift them to our school families, but they have not had the proper environment to truly grow year round. The greenhouse will allow them to witness the full cycle of seed, to fruit, to dirt and around again. Furthermore, the greenhouse will allow the children to truly follow their interests, explore a variety of plant types and shapes, and encourage the students’ passion for plants.

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St. James School

Duluth

What’s in My Water?

This unit will begin by examining our local watershed. We will investigate the extent of our watershed and which local bodies of water are involved. We will then research which organisms exist in our water and the impact of pollution on local aquatic life. Students will collect samples and work towards understanding the food web, ecosystems, niches, and habitats. We will tie what we have learned about aquatic organisms back to our watershed and how important it is to care for it. Students will learn how to fish, how to make lures, and after speaking with local spear fishermen from Fond du Lac Reservation, students will engineer decoys that are essential to ice fishing for local Native American culture.

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St. Jude of the Lake School

Mahtomedi

A Hands-On Approach with Robotics

As a newly authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) school, our vision is a robotics program/curriculum that will enhance and support the IB framework in each of our kindergarten through grade five classrooms. Through the study of robotics, our students will develop three highly valuable learning skills: innovative thinking, research and implementation through trial and error.  We will dedicate a classroom that will be used exclusively for the study of robotics. Along with providing a sufficient area for students to explore, design and test their projects, similar to a library or computer lab, when students enter the robotics center, they will understand that they are there for a specific purpose.

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St. Paul Preparatory School

St. Paul

Control Systems Unit

Starting in 2014-2015, St. Paul Preparatory School (SPP) will be partnering with Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to implement a STEM program at our school. The STEM program will offer courses in Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering.  In the Principles Of Engineering course, students will explore a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanisms, the strength of structures and materials, and automation. One unit of this course is Control Systems. For this unit, students use VEX Robotics kits to learn about machine control and fluid design.  They design and build automated solutions to such problems as an automated tool holder, an automated guided vehicle, an elevator and a surgical robot arm. For the final unit project, students work in teams of two and three to design a fully automated solution to an engineering challenge.  Students must use the engineering design process and knowledge they have acquired during the unit while collaborating as a team to complete this project.

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St. Vincent de Paul School

Brooklyn Park

STEM Robotics and Real World Challenges

7th grade students will be challenged to build a “nanorobot” that can remove a (representation of a) tumor from a (representation of a) tissue. Students will imagine they are employees of Medtronic that have been split into teams. These teams will be asked to come up with the most efficient design for robotic tumor removal. Students will not be building a prototype that is to scale, but the concept will remain the same. Instead of building with microscopic parts, students will use LEGO components to remove a golf ball (the representation of the tumor) from a section of the classroom (representing the tissue). Students will do both mechanical engineering and programming.

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Totino Grace High School

Fridley

Electrical and Computer Engineering Arduino Design Challenge

During this unit students in the 3-year E3 Engineering Institute will integrate topics from four educational disciplines: mathematical logic, electricity and electrical engineering, software design, and engineering design. The theoretical mathematical logic will be the basis for their electrical and software design. Students will take a real world situation, and break it down into its most basic logical form mathematically. That mathematical structure will determine their electrical circuit and their software (programming) design. Finally the students will design from scratch their own project relying on broader engineering design principles.

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Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori

Blaine

Outdoor Learning Environments

The Montessori curriculum places an emphasis on learning through experience, the hands, and inquiry.  This inquiry and choice-based education model lends well to STEM experiences. Our vision is to have an outdoor space where the children can learn the science of growing and conservation while fostering a true enjoyment and appreciation for our natural environments. We envision a learning space created and sustained by the children themselves as they use math and engineering skills and principles to build and innovate the space.  Technology will be an integral tool for aiding the children in this work.

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Starter Grants 

Starter Grants are intended to offer a first step into STEM education for member schools that have not received a MISF STEM Grant in the past. A Starter Grant will be awarded for the acquisition and implementation of STEM curricula and/or educational materials.

Blessed Trinity School

Richfield

Curious Minds Engineering Science Enrichment Program

The Curious Minds engineering classes begin with the introduction of a new science word such as aerodynamics accompanied by inquiry questions. Students then proceed to either hands-on activity stations or an experiment that explores the new word. For the closing of class the group revisits the inquiry questions and students are guided to the correct conclusion(s).  Throughout, students record their observations, data and conclusion in science journals that are provided by Curious Minds.  Intellectual learning like reasoning, predicting, hypothesizing and problem solving is a natural component to each planned activity.

Curious Minds’ lessons are done on-site at schools and in conjunction with the cooperating teacher. Extension activities are given to the classroom teacher after each lesson along with guidance and support as to how to complete the lesson.  A two-hour in-service workshop for K-5 teachers will take place at a time during the year that the school deems appropriate. All teachers will be educated about the types of inquiry science and how to teach subjects in the classroom with materials and objects already in their possession, making science applicable to all students in an everyday setting and infusing it across curriculum.

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City of Lakes Waldorf School

Minneapolis

Enhanced Methodology for Teaching Phenomenological Science

This STEM Starter Grant will allow our faculty to develop greater skill and a deeper understanding of the sense-based method of teaching science in our middle school grades. Teachers will use the “Teaching Sensible Science” course to enhance teaching skills and to engage in a review of our current curriculum. We will provide specific training to our grades teachers to support their delivery of the newly enlivened sense-based science curriculum. Through this work we will strengthen our teachers’ phenomenological and place-based approach to science and thereby strengthen student learning in all science subject areas. Teachers will refer to the material in the Minnesota standards for matter, motion, and energy to create a spiraling curriculum that builds each year, deepening the student’s awareness and understanding of the observable laws of physics.

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Crucifixion Catholic School

La Crescent

Science Museum of Minnesota Residency Program / Energy

The Minnesota Science Museum “Energy Connections” Residency Program will be a “jump start” that we can use to create multiple spin-off activities and local field trips as yearlong follow-ups to this study. Our faculty will plan, in grade groups, in clusters and across the school curriculum, how various aspects of energy will be combined into existing curriculum standards and benchmarks and how scientific discoveries surrounding energy can be included in our interdisciplinary curriculum.  This series of projects will culminate in a year-end symposium that will celebrate student led work on energy.   As a faith community, we are also committed to being good stewards of the earth. We already recycle and plan to create other social justice activities using this theme as well.

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Good Shepherd Catholic School

Golden Valley

Implementing Curious Minds’ STEM Program into our K-1 Classrooms

The Curious Minds engineering classes begin with the introduction of a new science word such as aerodynamics accompanied by inquiry questions. Students then proceed to either hands-on activity stations or an experiment that explores the new word. For the closing of class the group revisits the inquiry questions and students are guided to the correct conclusion(s).  Throughout, students record their observations, data and conclusion in science journals that are provided by Curious Minds.  Intellectual learning like reasoning, predicting, hypothesizing and problem solving is a natural component to each planned activity.

Curious Minds’ lessons are done on-site at schools and in conjunction with the cooperating teacher. Extension activities are given to the classroom teacher after each lesson along with guidance and support as to how to complete the lesson.  Teachers will be educated about the types of inquiry science and how to teach subjects in the classroom with materials and objects already in their possession, making science applicable to all students in an everyday setting and infusing it across curriculum.

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Holy Trinity School

Pierz

LEGO Robotics 101

Our project will integrate the LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3 in our 4th grade curriculum on force, motion and scientific method. Students will build robots using motors, sensors, gears, wheel and axles, and other technical components. During this project the students will brainstorm to find creative solutions to problems and develop their ideas through a process of selecting, building, testing, and evaluating.  The students will work cooperatively in small groups. They will engage in hands-on experiences with an array of sensors, motors, and intelligent units. The fourth grade students will cooperate with the Pierz High School Robotics team in sharing and presenting projects. We also plan to have a local engineer come to talk to the class and the students will share their projects.

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Most Holy Redeemer School

Montgomery

Middle School Energy

Our school is focusing its next three years on STEM education and additional technology programs. In the first year, we would like to adopt more hands-on approach to science, technology and math using STEM kits. We will purchase the Horizon STEM Energy Box, a kit that includes over 100 experiments, manuals, and teacher manual that puts hands-on creation into the students experience as they learn about their physical environment and energy. These experiments will be available to all middle school students in 5-8th grades and as an enrichment experience in our Learning Center for 3-4th grade students.

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Pine Harbor Christian Academy

Hastings

Ideas in Motion Create Invention

We will enhance our science and mathematics curricula while introducing the students to the scientific thinking processes using the FOSS (Full Option Science System) Modules. Each module simulates a lab experience for students without having to have a designated lab room or space. The three modules that this project will include are: Balance and Motion for Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grades; Ideas and Inventions for 3rd and 4th Grades; and Variables for 5th and 6th Grades.  Each module has a number of “investigations” or exercises that require each of the students to explore, design, construct and conduct experiments with various objects, materials and techniques and then apply variables that influence outcomes of these exercises.  The students will acquire the associated vocabulary of each of the modules while developing thinking processes to build explanations and solve problems through observing, communicating, comparing, organizing and relating.  And they will learn to express individual and group creativity through open-ended discoveries, investigations and inventions.

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St. Boniface School

Cold Spring

Energy and Motion: Now That’s Good Science!

6th grade students at Saint Boniface Elementary School study flight in science.  Our objectives are to understand the history, principles, and physics of flight.  As a culminating project, students build and launch rockets. To accomplish our objectives, we are looking to enhance the lessons in the curriculum with more hands-on experiences and fewer paper-pencil assignments. In addition, students will be experimenting with propellers and multiple rocket launching resources to test hypotheses. We will purchase materials to build K’NEX models, helicopters and other structures. We feel that adding glider, helicopter, and rocket activities will be a great method to see many of the facets of flight in action.  As a “real-world” experience, our scientists will be exposed to hands-on ways to appreciate the theories and objectives of the unit.

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The Whole Learning School

St. Louis Park

The Learning Project

The Learning Project at The Whole Learning School is a summer program that teaches students with autism and/or intellectual disabilities using an art-infused STEM curriculum. We have chosen this project because students with these disabilities have difficulty generalizing learning and making connections between different subjects and previously learned knowledge. Combining art with STEM learning is the perfect way to help them make these connections. They will engage in hands-on art and building projects that demonstrate the concepts of STEM. Curriculum topics include Plant Life, Genetics, DaVinci’s Small Machines, The Art and Math of Tessellations, and others listed below.

Students will be provided with hands-on opportunities to engage with each other, the curriculum, and the community.  The curriculum will be designed to encourage students’ abilities to recall and apply their knowledge. We will be using research-based curriculum development techniques to help students learn and grow during our summer program.  All lessons will be differentiated according to the student’s ability.

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