2018 STEM Grant Recipients & Projects
MISF awarded STEM Grants totaling more than $129,000 to 33 MISF member schools for projects to be implemented during the 2018-19 school year. Following is a list of the Innovation, Starter, and Sustainability Grant awardees and their projects.
Academy of Whole Learning
Frassati Catholic Academy
Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School
Martin Luther High School
Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School
Nativity of Mary Catholic School
New Life Academy
St. Croix Lutheran Academy
Saint Mark’s Catholic School
Saint Michael Catholic School
St. Peter Catholic School
Saint Thomas Academy
Southwest Christian High School
Totino-Grace High School
Winona Area Catholic School/St. Stanislaus
Academy of Holy Angels
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
Maranatha Christian Academy
Nativity of Our Lord
New Ulm Area Catholic Schools
Our Lady of Peace Catholic School
Presentation of Mary School
St. Alphonsus Catholic School
St. Joseph’s School
Southwest Christian High School
Southwest Minnesota Christian High School
Winona Area Catholic Schools
STEM Innovation Grants
Academy of Whole Learning, St. Louis Park
Life Science Mini-Labs
Students in grades K-8 will explore life science, integrating the engineering and design process. The Academy of Whole Learning has multiple grade levels in each class, as a result teachers are required to meet the needs of different learning levels within one classroom. We plan to meet our students’ needs by teaching through “mini-labs.” Mini-labs will expose the students to a topic and allow them to explore through hands-on experiences. This will also allow us to build on concepts over time and provide flexibility with our learning path. Bio-mimicry will be the focus, as it incorporates both life science and the engineer and design process in an engaging and relevant way. Students will create a final project using bio-mimicry to solve a problem. Life science is a great platform to integrate the crosscutting concepts for students. Learning about topics such as life cycles, ecosystems, cells, environmental changes, habitats and more, students will also be exploring the crosscutting concepts, providing students with a sustainable way of thinking that they can apply to various situations on a personal, local, and global level. Often, our students struggle with generalizing their knowledge—using what they learn in school and applying it in other ways or areas of their life. Teachers will use the crosscutting concepts to help students apply their thinking outside of the classroom.
Back to top
Benilde-St. Margaret’s, St. Louis Park
Design Thinking in Math, Engineering, Computer Science, and Art
Design thinking is a real-world entrepreneurial process in which the designer (whether an engineer, artist, or computer programmer) proceeds through an iterative cycle to empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Benilde-St. Margaret’s is creating several student experiences to follow this model, giving students direct experience with a methodology they may use later in their careers. This grant is being written to support four classes that will use this process during the 2018-2019 school year: Junior High Math, Junior High Engineering, Senior High Coding, and Senior High 3D Make It art class. We are also planning to start a new “Shark Tank” competition in which students compete by proposing new products or processes to a panel of adult entrepreneurs. The prototype stage of the design thinking process can best be supported by allowing students to have the tools necessary to create realistic representations of their ideas. Benilde – St. Margaret’s will use the MISF STEM grant to augment the purchase of some flexible, maker technology that can be used throughout the school. We will use these initial successes to expand this real-world design thinking process to other disciplines, including science, business, and faith formation.
Back to top
Cotter Schools, Winona
Cotter Bike Shop
We are seeking to develop a Cotter Bike Shop class. Students will register for this Flex class. Flex groups meet twice per week for 40 minutes. Students in this Flex class will learn the mechanisms and systems that make bicycles work. They will learn how to diagnosis a problem when a bike isn’t working properly, as well as how to fix the problem. Students will be trained in the art of bicycle mechanics, learning one system at a time, and graduating to a new system upon demonstration of accurate diagnosis and solution. Cotter currently has a large collection of bicycles for student and staff use. Imagine taking class on a bike ride to study science, art, literature, architecture, nature! Students in this class will use the scientific method, the engineering process, math skills, tools and technology to identify and solve problems. These students will maintain and repair the Cotter bikes and eventually repair other bicycles for a small fee or for free, and then donate the working bicycle to community members in need. Our goal is to grow and provide bike maintenance services to others in our community and to encourage students to get out and ride!
Back to top
Cretin-Derham Hall, St. Paul
Cretin-Derham Hall Challenge Lab
Cretin Derham Hall is seeking an Innovation Grant to create the CDH Challenge Lab. The Challenge Lab is a place where learners define the problems they want to solve and design solutions to address them. Leveraging technology, students engage in activities and projects that expose them to design thinking, engineering, and real world experiences. It also provides for an opportunity for students with great ideas and initiatives to mentor other students. The Challenge Lab is an incubator for student ideas and dreams – it offers partnerships with companies, alumni, and community members to help students recognize their responsibility to be agents of positive change in the world. In the Challenge Lab students will be able to explore robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing and computer-aided design. It provides students with a place to take risks, make mistakes, reach a little higher and dream bigger each time. The Challenge Lab will be open one day a week after school in conjunction with the existing FIRST Robotics Program. The Challenge Lab will allow for more than just robotics team members to experience and explore design thinking, building and dreaming all year round.
Back to top
Frassati Catholic Academy. White Bear Lake
Space: Rocket take off with dings, buzzers and lights
Frassati Catholic Academy is in its 4th year. We are a STREAM school, meaning our curriculum integrates Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art and Math and is coordinated among the staff. As a new school, a grant from MISF could help our middle school team create an interdisciplinary STREAM curriculum unit for grade 6. This grant could support a new curriculum with a scaffolding effort in mind, around circuitry and Maker opportunities in the middle school. On a broader level, we will start 6th by introducing simple circuits using a product called “littleBits.” In the coming years, 7th grade can progress to paper circuits, and by 8th grade, the effort will be to reinforce and expand the curriculum using more sophisticated circuitry work such as breadboards and Arduino projects. Perhaps, after this effort, robotics won’t be such an overwhelming concept for staff and students. This is the broad vision for the development of a STREAM middle school curriculum. This grant application is the start of a three-year effort to build and grow a circuitry curriculum that is integrated, interdisciplinary and could be a cutting edge model for other schools. The 6th grade would apply the knowledge of circuitry in a unit called Space: Rockets take Off with Dings, Buzzers and Lights.
Back to top
Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School, Minneapolis
Lower School STEAM Lab
Heilicher Day School is creating a STEAM lab. This past year, administrators, a STEAM consultant, and teacher leaders guided our faculty–improving pedagogy, providing training, and advising on curricular changes to build an inquiry based approach for K-8. As our faculty’s knowledge has grown, the need for an innovative learning space has become clear. We’ve raised the initial seed money for overhead and construction, to transform an existing classroom. Beyond the initial design and construction, there is a need to fully outfit the space for the many “makers” we want to support. This calls for sewing machines, hand/power tools, technology and a wide range of materials for tinkering, designing, coding and creating. While Heilicher can budget for the renovation, this grant would enable the school to purchase materials and be fully operational for the 2018-19 school year. Teachers incorporated a hands-on, inquiry-driven approach to teaching, and identified projects that align with the school’s curriculum and state standards. For example, students designed and made doorstops, a STEAM mural, sets for the school play, and tzedakah boxes. While students learned and applied knowledge in new, cross-curricular ways, teachers enjoyed the excitement that drove students to dive deep into their work.
Back to top
Maplewood Academy, Hutchinson
Virtual Laboratories for Science, Math and Technology
Maplewood Academy wants to implement the use of virtual laboratories in our science, technology and advanced math curriculum. We use the connected learning model, which means that all of our classes utilize live video conferencing technology to provide a complete, interactive educational experience for high school students on multiple campuses or in a home setting. One key challenge we have faced with this model relates to the lab science classes of Chemistry, Physics and Physical Science. While students can see what is going on in these science classes through live video conferencing, we are aware that some things are lost for those who are not physically present for these lab demonstrations. Virtual labs will empower all our science students to learn from experiments that mimic what happens in the lab. We will also be able to use aspects of the virtual labs in our technology and advanced math courses like trigonometry. If funded, this project will strengthen our science courses through the use of technology. It is a final step in our goal to offer our best holistic education through the connected learning model.
Back to top
Martin Luther High School, Northrop
Fish, Flora and Fuel for the Future
The Fish, Flora and Fuel for the Future project will provide equipment, teacher training and curriculum used in the new energy classroom building at Martin Luther High School. It will be half greenhouse and half classroom/shop and heated by combination of a geothermal system, solar power and biomass. The green house, in addition to a traditional, soil-based growing area, will contain an aquaponics system. The shop will contain an area for experimenting with alternative fuel sources such as alcohol, electricity, and bio diesel. STEM education will take place on all levels. The aquaponics systems will allow the school to develop and use hands-on curriculum that apply to biology, chemistry, physical science, and physics. Students will study an enclosed ecosystem in which pH levels, bio-filters, temperatures and the health of all organisms will have to be carefully monitored and maintained. This project will enhance and expand the school’s ability to reach and capture the interests of students in our agriculturally driven community. By developing this project from the ground up, teachers and students will learn how to solve problems, whether it be maintaining constant temperatures in a volatile Minnesota climate, treating plant diseases, or keeping fish healthy.
Back to top
Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School, New Ulm
This proposal is to help fund the purchase of VEX robotics equipment to supplement materials that are already in place at Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School in order to create a new semester-long course called “Robotics.” MVL has some VEX robotics equipment provided by our booster club, but not enough for a full section of students, so these materials are currently only used as a smaller unit as part of an existing STEM course. For the last two years, MVL has worked with an engineer at 3M to introduce our students to automated mechatronics as a unit in our existing STEM course, “Scientific Inquiry.” This proposal is to help fund enough supplies to begin a semester-long robotics course at MVL for up to 24 students on a yearly basis. The additional supplies would supplement the partnership already in place with 3M to further our students’ abilities and understanding of core STEM concepts. With the additional supplies the current STEM course, “Scientific Inquiry,” would in a sense daughter a second STEM course, “Robotics.”
Back to top
Nativity of Mary Catholic School, Bloomington
Thanks to our 2017 MISF Starter Grant, Nativity of Mary was able to provide our Grades 1-3 students with enriched learning experiences through the use of our Makerspace. The philosophy of the Nativity of Mary Makerspace is that if you can imagine it, you can make it. The Nativity of Mary Makerspace is a learning environment that enables students to collaboratively use various tools, technologies and materials to innovate, invent, engineer and creatively problem solve real life situations. This program provides a flexible, differentiated learning environment where active engagement occurs. These items seamlessly fit into our existing curriculum and will enhance our knowledge of engineering, innovating, and collaborating. Through this Innovation Grant, we want to expand our Makerspace and STEM program to bridge our initial start in Grades 1-3 to Grades 3-6. We want to incorporate several more STEM experiences for our students in Grades 3-6, including, but not limited to, littleBits, Robotics, a 3D printing device, a mobile Makerspace cart, Makedo, and a fleece/knitting station with sewing machines. By adding to our Makerspace and creating a more flexible learning environment, we hope to continue to create opportunities to spark students’ success and to inspire tomorrow’s innovators and inventors. Walt Disney once said, “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” Nativity of Mary wants to deepen the curiosity in the minds and hearts of every student that walks through our halls.
Back to top
New Life Academy, Woodbury
STEAM through 15% Innovation Portfolio
We are eager to build a solid foundation in STEM/STEAM education of a continuous, long-term, student-driven sustainable program through our “15% Innovation Portfolio.” Our goal during the 2018-19 school year is to establish five major clubs for students in grades 6-12 to engage in collaborative STEAM activities of their choice. The Robotics & Coding, Rocketry, Nature & Wildlife Ecology, Engineering and Independent Research Clubs will be facilitated by one or more STEAM teachers who have the passion and expertise in these subjects. Students will work in teams to initiate and lead their projects through scientific inquiry or engineering design and will participate in competitions within and/or outside of New Life Academy. Currently, all students are required to graduate with a portfolio that demonstrates growth in innovative thinking while in grades 6-12. By offering the new clubs, students will be inspired, learn new skills, and will be given the scaffolding needed for success. Many projects address humanitarian needs and/or environmental problems and offer innovative solutions. Through the MISF’s Innovation Grant, the NLA students will benefit from resources that will prepare them for future endeavors and careers that will impact our country and the global economy.
Back to top
St. Croix Lutheran Academy, West St. Paul
Practice to Product
Our project, Practice to Product, is a hands-on approach that will drive students to take concepts and turn them into products. The ability to take practice through computer systems and turn them into reality will provide real-time feedback allowing students to assess and analyze systems, practices, and products. The use of a generous Innovation Grant by MISF will assist with our STEM initiative that spans across many areas of our curriculum. The purchase of a CNC router will have direct impact on the following courses: Applied Technology, Introduction to Engineering, Principles of Engineering, STEM Capstone, Sculpture, Ceramics, Fundamentals of Art. The total cost of this project is over $30,000. This includes the purchase of 3D printers, CNC router, laser cutter and engraver, continuing education, wi