2016 STEM Grants

MISF awarded STEM Grants totaling more than $129,000 to 33 MISF member schools for projects to be implemented during the 2016-17 school year. Following is a list of the Innovation, Starter, and Sustainability Grant awardees and their projects.

STEM Innovation Grants

Academy of Whole Learning

Heritage Christian Academy

Loyola Catholic School

Maternity of Mary-St. Andrew’s School

Most Holy Redeemer School

New Life Academy

Our Lady of Peace

Saint Mark’s Catholic School

St. Croix Catholic School

St. Croix Montessori School

St. Joseph’s School

St. Mary’s School (Owatonna)

St. Mary’s Elementary School (Sleepy Eye)

St. Pascal Baylon School

St. Paul Preparatory School

Southwest Christian High School

West Lutheran High School

Winona Area Catholic Schools

STEM Starter Grants

Christian Heritage Academy

Faithful Shepherd Catholic School

Legacy Christian Academy

Magnuson Christian School

Our Savior Lutheran School

Risen Christ Catholic School

St. Alphonsus School

St. John’s Lutheran School

St. Odilia School

STEM Sustainability Grants

Academy of Whole Learning

Hill-Murray School

New Life Academy

St. Jude of the Lake School

Totino-Grace High School

The Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School

STEM Innovation Grants

Academy of Whole Learning, St. Louis Park
Title:   STEM Project Lab
Grades:  K-12

The creation of a STEM Project Lab would allow our students to explore and discover across all areas of STEM materials in a way that engages their imagination and their creative thinking. Our lab would consist of hands-on materials at a variety of exploration stations that allow students to solve real-world problems and explore with tools and systems that can translate into high interest in STEM careers. Some materials we would purchase for the lab include Ozobot coding robots, K’NEX building sets, and LittleBits electronic circuits. These tools address the STEM areas of engineering, design, electrical circuits, coding, simple machines and much more. Students will have the opportunity to learn a variety of skills from the same materials, allowing students to have a unique learning experience every time they use the lab.

Students will be able to engage in hands-on learning while creating and testing prototypes of their own creations. This lab will allow us to increase student involvement as well as implement curriculum that is based on student created investigation, which in turn will create more lasting and relevant learning experiences for our students. By addressing standards with hands-on activities that require students to engage and adapt as they learn, students are challenged to ask questions of themselves and their peers, define solutions to problems they see in the world around them, and explore how their ideas can change their world.
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Heritage Christian Academy, Maple Grove
Title:      Exploring Engineering
Grades:    K-5

Following the focus on scientific investigation during the implementation of the “Seeds of Hope” MISF starter grant project, Heritage Christian Academy has determined that there is a need for meaningful integration of the practices of engineering throughout the K-5 curriculum. The Exploring Engineering project would allow the Academy to better meet current Minnesota Academic Standards and the practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas from A Framework for K-12 Science Education through incorporation of the Engineering is Elementary curriculum. This project would form a strong foundation for fully integrated STEM at Heritage.

The Innovation STEM Grant would allow both students and teachers to focus on one of the Academy’s core values of EXCELLENCE, challenging students with more meaningful learning opportunities while allowing for learning through failure or trial and error.

Heritage has chosen to pursue the Innovation STEM Grant and the development of the Exploring Engineering project in order to achieve the following goals:

Student Goals

•             Increase literacy skills and scientific argumentation in the content areas of science, math, and engineering (continued goal from MISF Starter Grant 2015).

•             Learn and apply the Engineering Design Process: ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve, as a way of increasing engineering opportunities at the elementary level.

•             Gain a deeper understanding of the crosscutting concepts through the integration of engineering practices.

Teacher Goals

•             Create rubrics for the engineering process and products that align with the practices from A Framework for K-12 Science Education.

•             Integrate the crosscutting concepts and core understandings in the context of engineering design within the EiE kits and current ACSI “Purposeful Design” curriculum.

Professional Development Goals

•             Understand practices and crosscutting concepts from A Framework for K-12 Science Education and how they can be applied to EiE engineering kits and current science curriculum.
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Loyola Catholic School, Mankato
Title:   Seeing STrEaM through Mother Nature’s Eyes
Grades:  9-12

Through our project, Seeing STrEaM Through Mother Nature’s Eyes, students in grades preK-12 will better understand the quality of our local ecosystem using Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STrEaM).  We are requesting funding for Phase One of our project which will focus on the cause and effect of land practices implemented on our local ecosystem, Good Counsel Hill.

Good Counsel Hill is unique, being influenced exclusively by our school building/community and the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND). We anticipate that students in grades 9 -12 who are enrolled in our math and science courses will be involved in gathering and interpreting data.  Students will initially learn how to use available technology with Vernier Probes to gather and interpret data relevant to their coursework.

In the field, the students will measure levels of nitrates, phosphates, pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature, and other indicators of current soil and water quality.  They will conduct cooperative research projects to determine the cause and effect of various landscape and snow removal practices currently used on Good Counsel Hill.

The students will have access to the ravines and culvert runoff surrounding the hill and access to the creek below our hill that consists of runoff from our ecosystem, as well as that of our surrounding area.   The findings of these research projects will be presented at a Spring Showcase that will include our Loyola families, SSND, and community members.

The Loyola Catholic School (LCS) STrEaM project cultivates a growth mindset that focuses on the idea of taking care of Mother Earth for future generations; our hope is that it will promote student ownership of their school environment and ultimately expose them to STEM careers by teaching real world applications.
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Maternity of Mary-St. Andrew’s School, St. Paul
Title:   Light: An Exploration
Grades:  3,4,6

Students will be learning about light energy and its properties and dispelling misconceptions in an experiential and problem based learning environment using the Light Blox kits as the primary hands on learning tool. Students will begin by brainstorming and discussing what their understanding about the nature and properties of light are. They will then do a series of explorations using the Light Blox kits as well as a presentation from the 3M Visiting Wizards in a presentation about light and color.  After the initial lessons, explorations and presentations students will be researching real world applications for light technology in the world.  This will include optics, photonics, and energy applications as well as other possibilities that students may discover.  Based on their research and interests, students will use the engineering design process to create designs that they will showcase to the community.

Each grade level involved will do grade level learning based on grade level standards but there will also be opportunities for collaborations across grade levels as well.  This will be determined based on appropriateness of the material for the age as well as benefits to student outcomes. There will also be interactions between grades on the planning, designing and creation of the final project.
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Most Holy Redeemer School, Montgomery
Title:   Engineering and Robotics Concepts with LEGO Mindstorms EV3 Robots
Grades:  6-8

With the help of the regional library system, we will establish a LEGO makerspace in our school.  The makerspace will be open to students in grades K-8 and, for the students in grades 6-8, will provide the kick-off for the study of simple and powered machines.

After studying basic machines in a classroom setting with their teacher, students will extend their basic physics learning through the use of the LEGO Education Mechanism 8-Student Classroom Pack: They will actually build machines and create different mechanisms, they will study motorized machines in hands-on fashion, experiment with the measurement and production of wind energy, design a pneumatic system, and learn how gear-based implements operate.  Our school’s own curriculum will be augmented by the up-to-date, National Standards-based materials that come as part of the Mechanism 8-Student packs.

Students will demonstrate their learning from the simple and powered machines unit at an open house event at the school.  Also, students will also apply their practical, hands-on knowledge of simple and powered machines when they build the set for the fall theater production.
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New Life Academy, Woodbury
Title:   Innovative Exploration of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Grades:  6-12

We would like to offer our students the opportunity to learn about the importance of utilizing renewable energy sources through independent research and engineering processes.  In addition, we would like to offer a high school CIS course through the University of Minnesota about exploration of Energy sources. Our students and teachers in grades 6-12 will benefit from installation of a permanent weather station structure in our school yard. Students will discover and invent various methods of harnessing energy from the Sun, Wind, Water, and biological sources such as plants and yeast to produce clean and sustainable energy.

Teachers across different subject areas in both middle and high school will take part in this project. Science teachers will help our students understand the Engineering Process—problem solving through designing, building, testing, and improving prototypes by trial and error. English and Social Studies teachers will guide student in background research, writing reports in the proper scientific format and articulating their findings in oral presentations. Through Social Studies curriculum, students will learn about energy production over the ages and the effect of the overproduction and use of limited fossil fuels on populations, climate, economy and more.  Math and science teachers will support the project by teaching students about making predictions, collecting and interpreting data and statistical analysis to form conclusions.  Students will use the 3D printing and scanning technologies to creatively innovate new ideas.
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Our Lady of Peace, Minneapolis
Title:   Mobile Makerspace
Grades:  2,4,5

We would like to support our STEM curriculum by adding a mobile Makerspace, so that all students and staff would be able to easily access the materials. A mobile Makerspace would be used to immerse our students into the world of creative thinking and problem solving. Our school is equipped with an elevator so the mobile Makerspace will travel between our elementary and middle school floors. This will be a collaborative effort among our staff with three teachers taking the lead initially. We will be supported by the Engineering department at the University of St. Thomas, connecting engineering students from UST with our educators. This collaboration will allow our teachers to better define the nature of engineering, engineering practices and engineering fields and these connections to science that they are learning in the classroom. The Makerspace will give students the chance to experience the design process used in the science and engineering fields. It will provide students the opportunity to work in a hands on way collaboratively while delving deeply into science and engineering concepts.

The Makerspace will contain both high and low tech materials for students to incorporate technology into the items they make. These materials will allow students some creative opportunities to showcase their conceptual knowledge in real world situations. The students would be given the opportunity to display their work at an end of the year Maker Faire. This event would provide students with the opportunity to share their work with their classmates, families and the larger parish community.
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Saint Mark’s Catholic School, St. Paul
Title:   Engineering Design using the Arduino Platform
Grades:  5-8

The proposed project is to develop a computer / electrical engineering component to the middle school science curriculum.  Being a 21st century learner, means being prepared to face the technologies that the world presents our students.  Teaching students the engineering model of engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate will be the backbone of this project.  Students will learn about coding and logical thinking through the use of Arduino kits.  Students will also get the opportunity to hear from Engineers working in the local community in order to spark student interest to the engineering field.

The beginning of the unit will start with students learning simple code and progressing to the end of the unit, where students will design and develop a project answering a ‘real world’ problem. Arduino sensors work well for this type of design and implementation.

Once students create the final project, they will be responsible for presenting their “prototype” to the student body and demonstrating how it works in addition explaining the process of design and redesign. This project will tie into the National and State Science standards by incorporating Inquiry and the study of Science and Engineering.  The STEM grant funds will be used to purchase Arduino kits/STEM materials to be used in the classroom and for staff development.

Our school has chosen this project to incorporate more STEM learning in the classroom as well as more collaboration between elementary science and middle school science while fitting in with our mission statement of being an IDEALS school. An IDEALS school teaches using Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory and latest neuroscience research for optimal student learning.
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St. Croix Catholic School, Stillwater
Title:   Virtuous Ventures
Grades:  8

Teams of 8th Grade students will design, build, and program robots that provide specific services to help those in need. The students will understand the robot to be a tool that they can use in their Virtuous Ventures. The students’ robots will incorporate specific 3D-printed parts for robots, which will underscore for students how the design of a specific part will lead to successful assembly and operation of a completed robot.

Each team of students will be able to choose a real world challenge that is meaningful to the team. Team A may decide to design a robot that salts an icy driveway for the elderly. Team B may decide to design a robot that carries a backpack for someone with cerebral palsy.  We will be inviting a designer to be present and work hands-on with the students, observing the students’ work and discussing designs with them.  Students will utilize VEX kits to design and build their robots, RobotC to program the robots, and Autodesk Inventor and the school’s 3D printer to print a part that is compatible with and enhances the robot’s ability to complete the specified task.

This project will be included in the 8th graders’ digital portfolios as the Science element of their Created for Greatness virtuous leadership formation experience.
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St. Croix Montessori School, Stillwater
Title:   Chicken Coop
Grades:  7-8

The students will be challenged with designing and building a new chicken coop based on the needs of the animals and the growing flock.  They will need to learn about the needs of the chickens and how to design a coop that will suit those needs while supporting a growing flock (by double or triple) to support a micro-economy that they create.  There will be a heavy emphasis on biology and anatomy of chickens and their egg production.  We will also learn about safety of the flock and proper/safe handling of eggs as they get ready to sell them to the community.

The students will also need to figure out how to supply energy to the structure and learn the basics of energy/electricity and why renewable sources may prove better than other sources.  They will also look at different ways to manage the manure that is produced by the chickens (as well as the other animal manure).

Finally, the students will need to learn how to use tools in the building process and understand why structures are built in the manner they are, including types of foundations as well as types of materials for the main structure and roofing.  With chicken coops in Minnesota, it is also important to understand what material to use for flooring and why.
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St. Joseph’s School, West St. Paul
Title:   Makerspace
Grades:  6-8

St. Joseph’s School would like to develop and build an educational makerspace that expands the students’ interest, knowledge, and creativity in integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM). A makerspace is a dedicated STEAM classroom where students will construct their knowledge base in science, mathematics, engineering, coding, making, construction, robotics, 3D printers, electronics, and more. St. Joseph’s has chosen to extend learning with a STEAM-based curriculum through hands-on activities so students can make real-world connections and better understand crosscutting concepts both in science and across disciplines.

Students’ time in the STEAM classroom will be carefully monitored and constructed so that integrated STEAM curriculum balances the need for building core content knowledge with the need for students to creatively explore and test their conceptions and prove to themselves that misconceptions are inaccurate. The STEAM classroom will provide an exceptional space for students to take a deep dive into the three dimensions of science, as outlined in A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. We clearly understand that the disciplinary core ideas of science are most meaningful when students are able to identify crosscutting concepts and apply scientific and engineering practices.

We understand that engaging and guiding students through STEAM curricula will allow for deeper and more meaningful connections. It is anticipated that outcomes of this learning will include higher science, mathematics, and reading test scores.  More importantly, although more difficult to measure quantitatively, students’ interest and excitement will increase.
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St. Mary’s School, Owatonna
Title:   littleBits: Electronic Programming and Design
Grades:  2-8

The littleBits electronic modules were integrated into our curriculum to empower students, through hands-on learning, to both understand and reinvent the world of electronics.  The Bits allow students to build innovative circuits that combine electronic building blocks with other materials, such as cardboard, rubber bands, paper clips, etc. Students use the design model (identify problem, brainstorm, design, build, test & evaluate, redesign, and share) helping them learn logical reasoning skills and develop good problem solving strategies. With these electronic modules students are able to explore, experiment, collaborate, and create electronic systems with real-world applications

Currently we are using the littleBits modules with students in grades 5, 7, and 8.  Our hope is to expand our library of electronic modules and involve students in grades 2-8. We also hope to expand beyond the classroom with before-school and after-school programs in a dedicated makerspace, to attract students to science, math, and engineering concepts and reach underrepresented populations such as girls.  Using littleBits provides a practical way for both teachers and students to engage in STEM beyond the classroom. It is our first year implementing a robotics program for our junior high students. Some students participating in our coding/electronic curriculum have since moved on to register for computer science courses at our high school and participate in the robotics program. We are especially pleased to see girls finding their place in the world of computer science and electronic innovation.

We will begin with two specific projects related to energy conservation and our impact on the environment.  We have many real-life experiences on which to draw given the challenges of our current learning environment.  Our goal is to engage students in powerful hands-on learning in STEM/STEAM and gain 21st century skills and mindsets, contributing to technological innovations of today which drive our global world.
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St. Mary’s Elementary School, Sleepy Eye
Title:   littleBits: Electronic Programming and DesignLEGO Education
Grades:  2,5,6

Our objective is to integrate our science, math and technology curriculum with engineering concepts for students in second, fifth, and sixth grades. With the use of teamwork and construction skills, they will discover the basic principles of engineering by erecting 3-D models. They will identify a specific need or problem and then find a solution based on modeling, testing, and evaluating. Students will utilize age-appropriate scientific inquiry and simple investigation to identify a problem, design an experiment, and reach a feasible solution. Each project will include data analysis and a report of the findings to the entire class.

The students will begin working with gears, wheels, axles, levers and pulleys.  As they are ready, they will move on to motorized machines, calibrating and capturing wind, and studying gearing mechanisms. Finally, they experience robotics as they build and program real-life robotic solutions. They will be working with ultrasonic sound, light sensors, and following building instructions.   The students will be observing, reasoning, predicting, using critical thinking skills, working cooperatively while acquiring key insights in science, technology, engineering, and math. All of which are necessary lifelong learning skills.
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St. Pascal Baylon Catholic School, St. Paul
Title:   Tinker Town
Grades:  K-8

This STEM Innovation Grant will incorporate more STEM learning into the current kindergarten – eighth grade curriculum. Our plan is to create a Tinker Town with STEM-based learning stations within the “town.” This grant will support the redesigning of an unused classroom into a collaborative STEM learning space. There will be three learning stations set up each trimester:

First trimester: (Introductory levels of learning)

STEM Street

Building Boulevard

Tinker Trail

Second trimester: (Intermediate levels of learning)

App Avenue

Coding Curve

Digital Drive

Third trimester: (Advanced levels of learning)

Circuit Cove

Robot Road

High Tech Highway

Our learning stations will follow the “Five E” learning cycle —Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration and Evaluation

Lessons will be flexible so they can be adapted for different grades and ability levels. We will choose learning activities that appeal to all students, including students with special learning needs to high achieving gifted and talented learners.
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St. Paul Preparatory School, St. Paul
Title:   Investigation of Factors that Affect the Mississippi River Watershed
Grades:  10-12

This project touches 4 STEM strands (1) Environmental Stewardship (2) Citizen Science (3) Robotics Engineering and (4) Statistical Analysis.

Students in biology and environmental science will study the abiotic factors that determine the health of a river ecosystem such as dissolved oxygen, flow rate, nitrate and phosphate levels and turbidity. They will use sampling techniques to collect water samples and use instruments and chemical indicators to test abiotic factors in the classroom. Students will decide why these factors are relevant to research and then investigate the source of any pollutant or excess/lack of nutrients. An environmental engineering component provides students the opportunity to develop strategies for mitigation and remediation of pollution.

Congruently, the robotics class will build a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) with an underwater camera that provides visual data. An arm on the ROV will collect sediment to be analyzed for nitrate, phosphate, and biota.

Aerial data would be collected by the aerospace students using a quadcopter. The quadcopter would be built, programmed, and flown by teams of students. Data would include geographic images of areas surrounding sampling sites, which is useful to students in determining sources of any pollutants or excess nutrients.

Data collected by the environmental science class will be submitted to statistics students to develop statistical models of the overall health of the watershed. Over time such data will provide a model of the health of the river. Our long-term goal is to program this data into a website where it could be accessed by students or citizens all over the state. Students will convey this knowledge of agricultural pollution, and its effects and remediation strategies to the community to encourage sustainable agricultural practices around watersheds.

To close the project, STEM students will volunteer with a land restoration organization called Great River Greening.
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Southwest Christian High School, Chaska
Title:   Cortisol Hormone Test Development and Research
Grades:  11-12

Southwest Christian High school (SWCHS) is developing a student research program in conjunction with its chemistry and biology curriculums. Many SWCHS students are interested in the medical field, so the program is designed to use medical research as a platform for learning chemistry and biology and encourage student interest in science.

Using resources purchased with the STEM grant funds, students in the CIS chemistry class would develop a test for salivary cortisol. Once the test in reliable and accurate, the chemistry students will train the honors biology students to use the test. The honors biology class will then design and conduct a study involving salivary cortisol. The bioethics class will also have a role in managing the “patient” data as an example of ethical issues with medical information. This program allows students to experience a real world situation involving the development and testing a medical product managing health information.

The program will be under the direction of Dan Ehresmann, PhD who has over 20 years of experience in the development of medical tests and can give appropriate guidance to students. Former colleagues of Dr. Ehresmann at Beckman Coulter have also agreed to assist in the program and can help sustain the program in future years.
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West Lutheran High School, Plymouth
Title:   Engineering an Engineering Curriculum: Putting the “T” and “E” in STEM Education at West Lutheran High School
Grades:  10-12

West currently has the bits and pieces of a STEM curriculum but not a clear vision of what our STEM-instructed student should look like at graduation.  We need a study of what pieces are already in place and what needs work in our Math and Science curricula. We anticipate curriculum development and implementation will be a two-year process.

Our grant request is seeking help in funding the creation of an innovative curriculum. The curriculum development will apply the same model used in teaching STEM-based lessons.  We have broken down our process into these STEM-based steps.

Research A study will be made of what elements are found in a good STEM-infused curriculum.  Our own curriculum will be assessed according to our findings.
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Design This curriculum will incorporate technology that will be placed into the students’ hands.  To do this the writing staff will need to seek the best, most applicable teaching strategies and the accompanying technology and try them ourselves.  In other words, find what needs to be taught, find the technology that might teach this and then play with the gadgets.  This will be a hands-on process involving more than just writing.


Build As curriculum concepts evolve, units/lessons will be written and placed in the existing courses.

Test During the school year before the full implementation, lessons will be piloted in various classes.


Implement/Improve At the end of this process a new curriculum will have evolved. The successful units/lesson discovered in the test phase will stay in place.  Course additions will be explored as needed. Inquiries have already been made to several of West’s association schools and they have expressed an interest in coordinating curricula.
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Winona Area Catholic Schools, Winona
Title:   Think Rube Goldberg
Grades:  3-6

We want our students to have the opportunity to create, test, invent and fail.  We have been blessed to have a great supply of LEGO kits for each level of students at our school thanks to MISF.  They are used almost daily in some capacity.  We have been supplementing our electrical and mechanical engineering projects with donations from the community, parents and my garage.  This would be an opportunity to enhance and expand our existing STEM program.

We do not want to purchase little kits for the students that they just follow specific instructions to put together.  We want to build a supply of tools and materials, so our students can create.  We want our students to have experiences building and testing: bridges, towers, vehicles, rockets, roller coasters, buildings, etc.  We want our students to explore: electricity, motion, magnetism, air pressure, gravity, etc.

We could help our students do this better using: some cordless drills, miter box, circular saw, magnets, 2”x4”s, plywood, duct tape, masking tape, wiring tools, light outlets, PVC pipe, hinges, 14-2 wire, bolts, nuts, washers, clamps, nails, dominoes, marbles, pipe insulation, 5 gallon buckets, gutters, funnels, PVC pipe, string, mouse traps, ping pong balls, pulleys, plastic beakers, pool noodles, foam insulation, etc.
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STEM Starter Grants

Christian Heritage Academy, Rosemount
Title:   STEM Program Launch
Grades:  5-8

Christian Heritage Academy will be creating a designated science lab next year, and the first launch into a STEM program. Our program will be hands-on with lab-based demonstrations and experiments.  It will include projects that offer important learning experiences related to electronics, circuitry, computing, and robotics.  Engineering design will be our initial foundational layer of the launch. Engineering design will teach students to define a problem in many different scenarios, design a solution, build it, test it, analyze the results and then make revisions to the design.  Students will learn to document each revision and its results.

We plan to utilize several components to tie science and math into engineering. Snap Circuits will make electricity exploration and experimentation easy for younger students.  Using small voltage motors, batteries, switches, wires, and everyday supplies, students can create, test, document, and explore the machines they. Makey Makey will provide students an opportunity to study sound conductivity through the creation of instruments. The goal for our launch into STEM is to create a curriculum that challenges students to use problem-solving skills in an inquiry, project-based learning environment.
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Faithful Shepherd Catholic School, Eagan
Title:   Introduction to Robotics through Cubelets
Grades:  K-8

I would like to enhance my existing units on engineering and programming in my K-8 technology classes with a set of programmable blocks called Cubelets. I already teach engineering and programming units to most grade levels, but the instruction is primarily supported by online simulations. Cubelets allow students to practice real time engineering concepts and elements of programming by pairing actions blocks together.

Cubelets promote collaboration; students can work independently but a majority of the activities are focused on partnerships or small groups. Students connect specific cubes to investigate the relationship between cause and effect and relationships between senses. Cube actions include sensors, motors, lights, brightness, knobs, speakers, temperature, and rotation. Older students will be able to program the Cubelets via Bluetooth, allowing inventions to come to life and complete tasks. Cubelets are also compatible with LEGO supplies, allowing us to utilize existing resources and maximizing our supplies with the greatest number of students. Cubelets are easy to move to different locations, which allows them to be used in a variety of locations, including labs, classrooms, and small group work areas.
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Legacy Christian Academy, Andover
Title:   Electronics Microcontroller Engineering Lab
Grades:  5,11,12

This project will lead the students through a series of hands-on experiences using microcontrollers to teach the fundamentals of electronics and the engineering design process. The sequence will be as follows:

1) Design project #1:

This project will challenge teams of students to design a system to entertain 5th graders using high impedance switches (Makey-Makey) that interface their laptop computers. The final design “prototype” of each team’s design will be evaluated by a group of 5th grade students.

2) Microcontroller input/output labs:

This section will use a microcontroller breadboard kit (Arduino Ultimate Kit) to guide the students through a series of weekly electronic assemblies. All of these labs will reinforce the electronics chapters they are currently studying as well as physics concepts from the entire YTD. The students will work in pairs to build a series of circuits that demonstrate 3 core microcontroller capabilities: Sensor input, Output and Control.

3) Microcontroller based 4-wheel autonomous robot:

This segment will be the assembly and troubleshooting of a 4-wheel robot that determines its own path employing an ultrasonic distance sensor as “eyes.” This final project will use the tools and knowledge gained in the input/out lab series (plus additional components.)
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Magnuson Christian School, White Bear Lake
Title:   Science and Math Resource Tools
Grades:  K-8

As an independent K-8 school in our twelfth year, we are very proud of the foundation we have established.  We have a strong, close culture among staff, students, and families grounded in shared faith-centered values.  We have a strong core academic program and are proud to ensure no child is turned away for financial reasons.

While we are proud of the learning community we have built, as we look to the future we are also committed to providing an even stronger academic program.  A priority for us is our overall STEM program, and next year science will be our school-wide focus area.

We will use this grant to acquire non-consumable materials and resources our teachers will need to foster hands-on, exploratory, and inquiry-based STEM instruction that will prepare our students for success in college and beyond.

This grant will help us establish a foundation of materials focused on measurement and observation that will allow students to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty exploring the cross-cutting concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards.  We are intentionally purchasing items with broad application that will allow students from kindergarten to 8th grade to explore and draw conclusions about the world around them.
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Our Savior Lutheran School, Excelsior
Title:   Trip to Mars
Grades:  5-8

This project would bring hands-on experience in developing explanations and solutions to science and engineering problems.  The activities would be based on a “Trip to Mars” curriculum which I learned about at the NSTA STEM Forum.  The topics covered would include Newton’s Laws, Heat and Thermal Energy Transfer, Convection, Conduction, Radiation, Conductors, Insulators, Radiation, Ablation, Friction, Mass, Cost Analysis, Air Resistance, Surface Area, Acceleration, Energy Transformation, and others.  The students would have various challenges to complete all related to the theme of “Planning a Trip to Mars”.

The students will work on engineering challenges related to a trip to Mars.  They will build and launch rockets.  They will do experiments relating to friction and air resistance.  They will also bring art into the process as they develop a mission patch.  The various topics would be studied with hands-on STEM activities.
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Risen Christ School, Minneapolis
Title:   Light Unit
Grade:  3

Risen Christ Catholic School serves students who live in poverty (96% qualify for free/reduced price lunch) who may not have access to hands-on experiences in STEM fields. Additionally, 98% of our students are students of color, who are generally under-represented in STEM fields.

This starter grant allows us to purchase resources which can be used year after year to provide engaging, hands-on STEM experiences for the children, sparking their interest in these fields while meeting the state standards.

This starter grant would be used to purchase a curriculum unit published by Engineering is Elementary, developed by the Boston Science Museum. Engineering is Elementary supports educators and children with curricula and professional development that develop engineering literacy. This would give the students a hands-on experience with engineering, that serves them better than the materials currently available in the classroom.

The grant would also allow us to purchase a classroom laser kit from LASER Classroom, a company which provides the tools and resources to teach and learn about Light, Lasers and Optics. Again, these materials will allow the teacher to provide engaging, hands-on activities. Materials purchased can be reused from year to year and have applications at other grade levels as well.
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St. Alphonsus School, Brooklyn Center
Title:   Projects in Electricity!
Grades:  4-8

Students in grades 4th-8th will gain a further understanding of electricity, magnetism and engineering concepts through a series of kits and projects related to real life problems and situations.

In 4th-5th grade we want students to create circuitry using a conductive and non-conductive play dough (Squishy Circuits) to further explore how a circuit is made. They will also make simple electronic machines with the other components in the kit from alarms to designing a night light. After students learn the basics of electricity, we want to introduce electromagnetism and robotics to have students create a solar powered metal collecting robot.

In the Middle School grades we will plan on 8th grade students designing wearable clothing technology with Adafruit. It will incorporate flashing LED’s for nighttime wearing to help avoid accidents. We want to utilize our 3d printer further by having students in 7th grade design and create wind turbine blades and test the output with a digital multimeter on a wind turbine kit. In 6th grade students will learn about input devices as they control electronics devices using a Makey Makey to expand on their prior learning.
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St. John’s Lutheran School, Lake City
Title:   Robotics Unit
Grades:  1-8

This STEM Starter Grant will purchase robotics equipment for grades 1-8 to use cross-cutting strategies in the Science/Technology curriculum.

Improving science/math skills is vital. Using robotics will enrich the science, math, and technology components through hands-on learning, while introducing practical engineering concepts.

The robotics technology activities and the incorporation of math lessons demonstrating robots’ uses-speed/acceleration, circumference/distance, measuring angles, and creating data graphs; writing lessons: journaling about activity development and creating written directions for younger students; and reading lessons including research on robot use in today’s world and reading robotics story books, will demonstrate to students other connections and uses for robotics.

The project begins with a small group activity where 3-4 students create a simple robot using dowels, wheels, and small motors. The students will work in mixed age groups to create their project.

Subsequently, students in grades 1-2 will work in groups of 3-4 with LEGO We-do kits to create the robots using prepared materials while students in grades 3-5 will use LEGO We-do kits to create and program robots.  Grades 6-8 students will also create and program with the additional LEGO Resource kits and will use Ozobots for advanced programming to develop their robots for specific purposes.
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St. Odilia School, Shoreview
Title:   Starting STEM with LEGO
Grades:  1-2

An area of focus that our school has decided to pursue is to incorporate STEM into our curriculum. We recognize the value that an education rich in science, technology, engineering and math provides our students and would like to keep expanding the number of opportunities our students receive in these areas. We feel a natural next step to enhance our curriculum is to include LEGO kits, which will expose students to STEM concepts and complement our existing curriculum.

We plan to buy LEGO kits to share among one or two grade levels in order to discover if we can expand LEGO offerings into our current curriculum at more grade levels. We believe these kits will allow our students to learn to work collaboratively to solve problems. We currently have a robotics team as an enrichment opportunity for some students, but would like LEGO education kits to be part of our in-school curriculum in science and math.
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STEM Sustainability Grants

Academy of Whole Learning, St. Louis Park
Title:   The Growing Project
Grades:  5-12

In 2015, Academy of Whole Learning applied for an Innovation Grant to buy a school greenhouse. We used the greenhouse to incorporate hands on learning and engage students in STEM while teaching life science. In the fall of 2015, strong winds blew over our greenhouse destroying our plants, experiments and the entire greenhouse itself. Not only would we like to use this Sustainability Grant to continue to incorporate STEM concepts at our school, but also we would like to use the money to rebuild a strong foundation for our new greenhouse. We will use this opportunity to help us teach engineering in science next year.

Students will assist in the design of a base for the greenhouse and a framework for benches and shelving to put in the greenhouse. The wood base will provide more stability for the greenhouse in all weather and wind conditions. It will also engage our students in engineering practices to help support the 2016-17 science curriculum at Academy of Whole Learning. We would also like to make it possible for the greenhouse to run in the cold winter months. We would use this opportunity for students to design and build passive solar heaters out of common household items.
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Hill-Murray School, Maplewood
Title:   H-M STEM Course Development
Grades:  10-12

In the 3D printing course, students were exposed to real world problem solving, however, some of the problems encountered were due to a lack of proper tools and materials with which to work.  Through no fault of their own, students had to make do with frames that had mis-drilled holes due to a homemade CNC router.  With the sustainability grant, we will purchase the X-Carve CNC router from Inventables.  Also, due to the large number of parts and projects being printed in the course, we will also purchase multiple spools of high quality ABS filament that will cause fewer extruder clogs in the student printers.  This will allow students to spend more time engaging in problem solving activities that are designed for student creativity and real life application.   Without these resources, the course will not run smoothly and there will be fewer opportunities for students to learn.
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New Life Academy, Woodbury
Title:   Sustain NLA’s Makerspace
Grades:  K-12

With the MISF grant we received last year, we have re-invented our Media Center and created a MakerSpace that is attracting more students every day. At the beginning of the year, students were interested in the transformation. Through our schedule changes and time set aside each

day for kids to be in the space, the interest has grown into students in the MakerSpace before school, during school, and after school. We have self-directed learners asking to stay in from recess to work on projects! Some of the projects include making 3D models for real companies, students directing commercials and ads for school events, and kids learning how to write code. An elementary student asked if we could host clubs after school so kids could have more time to work. With more kids using the space, we need to be able to sustain supplies such as filament for our printer, more coding programs, conduction materials for kids to use for circuits, and more video and sound recording equipment.
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St. Jude of the Lake School, Mahtomedi
Title:   LEGO Robotics Expansion
Grades:  K-1

During the spring of 2014, St. Jude of the Lake Catholic IB World School was honored to be selected for an MISF STEM innovation grant to support a new initiative involving LEGO robotics. This initiative has proven to be a vibrant learning component in each of our kindergarten through grade five classrooms.  In addition, the program has become instrumental in supporting our International Baccalaureate (IB) K-5 curriculum which seeks to foster student inquiry that leads to deeper, more relevant, and lasting student learning.

The past two years has seen our school overcome significant challenges.  This has led to many wonderful opportunities and changes. One of the most exciting changes is that school enrollment is up by 25%!  While we are certainly delighted with this trend, it has posed a challenge (especially in our lowest grades) in the area of available resources for our students.  Included among these resources are adequate numbers of LEGO robotics materials.

Therefore, it is our intent to apply for an MISF STEM sustainability grant that would enable us to secure funding for the purchase of additional LEGO robotics kits to be designated for use by our students in kindergarten and grade one.
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Totino-Grace High School, Fridley
Title:  Digital Electronics and Software Engineering Arduino Unit
Grade:  11

A couple of years ago we received a grant to fund a project for our juniors in our Engineering 2 course to work on a project learning about digital electronics and computer systems using Arduino microprocessors. The final stage of the project is to do an open ended project where the students design a “smart” system, that takes at least two digital inputs taken from electrical sensors, read that information and give an appropriate electrical output. A simple example would be a motion light in your backyard would turn on if it is dark outside and it detects motion.

Giving free reign to our students is fantastic, as their imaginations are wonderful at this age, however that leaves us with a huge need for more electronics, more sensors, more Arduinos, and more electrical output devices. A small amount of the electronics has been broken or lost, but the high majority has been kept. We simply want and need more to give students full access to their full creativity.
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The Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School, Blaine
Title:   Sustaining Outdoor Learning Environments
Grades:  PK-6

This year our teachers are enacting their continuation lessons with the garden areas and use of the food grown as well as the important topics within the area of conservation.  As we began many of these efforts, a couple of issues popped up that we are hoping to alleviate.

The first issue was that not all of the students’ plants survived the year.  This is a great lesson in and of itself so we want the children to take that information and plan their gardens this year with even greater success.  We will, however need funds to purchase new plantings and seeds to replace the losses.

We also began composting last year and realized that in order to sustain the project, we need compost to be in various stages.  Right now we only have one compost bin, but will need more to really get the compost into a usable form each spring to sustain our gardens.

Finally, we have outside doors to the learning environments, but found that leaving them open meant that dust, dirt, insects, and water would often get through the doors into the classrooms.
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