2016 STEM Grants


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 h