2019 STEM Grant Recipients
MISF awarded STEM Grants totaling more than $100,000 to 26 MISF member schools for projects to be implemented during the 2019-20 school year. Following is a list of the Innovation, Starter, and Sustainability Grant awardees and their projects.
Academy of Holy Angels
Academy of Whole Learning
Ascension Catholic School
Gethsemane Lutheran School
Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School
Legacy Christian Academy
New Life Academy
Oak Hill Montessori
Risen Christ Catholic School
Southwest Christian High School
St. Dominic School
St. Joseph School (Waconia)
St. Jude of the Lake School
STEM Sustainability Grants
2019-20 STEM Innovation Grants
Academy of Holy Angels, Richfield
Data analysis and integrated career exploration in Anatomy and Physiology
Academy of Holy Angels plans to increase the depth and breadth of STEM within our anatomy and physiology curriculum by introducing new sensors that will provide the practical foundation for a variety of laboratory experiments, enhance learning experiences, and better facilitate student engagement. This includes: EKG sensors for measuring heart rate, dynamometers for measuring the force of muscle contraction, surface temperature sensors for measuring body temperature, and spirometers and oxygen gas sensors for measuring lung volumes and oxygen uptake. This will also support a stronger focus on technical writing. We also plan to incorporate additional career exploration within our curriculum by partnering with local medical professionals who will provide a series of talks to discuss their careers. The talks will be accompanied by a relevant laboratory exercise that will reinforce key technical concepts.
Academy of Whole Learning, Minnetonka
Helping students with ASD Earth and Space Science through Virtual Reality
Academy of Whole Learning (AOWL) is a not-for-profit private school for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related learning differences. Students with ASD often experience sensory difficulties with sounds, lights, smells, and touch. Implementing virtual reality (VR) will allow students to experience science content within a “practice” environment without the potential for as many sensory challenges.
AOWL plans to integrate VR technology in the classroom to provide our K-8 students with a meaningful and immersive way to learn science and STEM concepts and skills. Teachers will not rely solely on VR to provide science and STEM instruction, but it will be used as a vital tool to engage students, provide meaningful learning experiences, and increase academic outcomes. The immersive visual real-world experiences that students will have through VR will solidify their understanding of science concepts and further develop their STEM skills.
Ascension Catholic School, Minneapolis
Our Robotics Club will introduce scholars to many foundational skills of technology, engineering, and computer programming. Beyond technical skills, the experiences derived from the robotics club will impart lessons on collaboration and communication with others to solve complex problems as well as learning from failures and adversity. This robotics club will interface with our Youth Center that currently serves our 6th-8th grade scholars after school. The team will participate in internal challenges as well as enter at least one tournament with other local schools. These efforts will serve to prepare our scholars for fulfilling lives and careers in the STEM fields. Ascension’s partnership with PaR Systems through this project will be part of a broader effort to introduce our scholars to a world that is becoming more STEM-focused. PaR will provide coaching to our staff as we build our STEM curriculum, and will also mentor scholars in career exploration in STEM areas.
Bethany Academy, Bloomington
Eagles Fly! – Introducing STEM careers in aviation
During 2018/19 Bethany Academy initiated an aviation class as part of the first year in a nationwide program sponsored by the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). The curriculum is designed to introduce all aspects of STEM careers in aviation to high school students including careers as pilots, air traffic controllers and aerospace engineers as well as those who work with unmanned aircraft systems, and more. The program is part of a nationwide effort by airlines, government agencies and military aviation to address an acute shortage of pilots currently and in the coming years. The interest and participation in this program in our school has exceeded our expectations and we would like to expand the program next year to add additional classes each year as the AOPA sequentially releases their planned 4-year curriculum. We have partnered with Hummingbird Aviation at Flying Cloud airport. This grant will enable us to equip an area in our school where students will learn to fly using a realistic flight simulator. Students will also learn to fly unmanned aircraft systems using drone kits that also teach programming skills.
Gethsemane Lutheran School
Gethsemane Lutheran School seeks to transform our computer lab into a Makerspace that will support our growing STEAM program and also expand it to include grades K-8. We plan to introduce a laser cutter and sewing machines as flagship offerings alongside our 3D printer, develop curricula to unify our teaching approach, and work with community partners in a Making Exchange to refine students’ 21st-century skills and inspire students’ career goals. Makerspace education builds critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration skills and do so by drawing out student choice and interest, nurturing lifelong STEM engagement far beyond the classroom. Gethsemane’s Makerspace will allow our students to develop their independence and sense of self. Gethsemane now provides in-house interdisciplinary classes year-round instead of sending students off-campus for part of the year. This created a need for a dedicated space for equipment and materials. Meeting this need will enable us to expand STEAM education to our elementary grades through buddy projects, after-school clubs, and curricular offerings. We will address students’ unmet needs and achieve our goal of granting our whole school access to the benefits of STEAM learning.
Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School
This fall, we plan to expand our STEAM elective course offerings to enhance our K-8 STEAM curriculum. STEAM classes will be taught 45 minutes each week and all students will have access to STEAM electives. We will offer a fall, winter, and spring elective rotation, giving students the ability to choose as many as three different STEAM-focused experiences. While many of our past electives are taught with items on hand, we are looking to enhance engineering and technology options by purchasing materials that will build a more robust STEAM program. This would build on the NGSS that we are addressing in class and technology skills, such as those learned in Scratch coding. These new offerings will make a difference in our school because they significantly expand the technology and engineering learning opportunities for our K-8 students. Our faculty is eager to gain more experience with teaching newer technology and engineering concepts, and these materials will provide them with the items (curriculum, background knowledge, PD and lesson plans) that they need for their professional growth.
Legacy Christian Academy, Andover
In 2019-2020 we are adding a Middle School STEM club that will be available as an extracurricular activity for 5-8th grade students. Over the last year, students have inquired about the formation of a STEM club. Interest was especially piqued after students finished a project on engineering earthquake resistant buildings. A current group of students developed the idea further and entered their design into the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision STEM competition. The STEM club would give a larger amount of students the support and time to enter this competition and similar ones. The club will focus on developing and fostering problem solving, innovative thinking, collaboration, grit, and responsibility in students. In addition, it will generate an interest in STEM careers for students from all backgrounds, as students develop skills and address problems faced in STEM careers. The club will present students will questions and scenarios and give students materials and guidance in order to answer the questions with working models. Some projects may include: engineering a robot to perform a specific task, building water purification systems, and learning how to code.
New Life Academy, Woodbury
Engineering Electives and Optical Tweezers in High School
At New Life Academy, we would like to offer new Engineering courses with the goal of engagement in STEAM at the high school level. In 2019-20, students in grades 9-12 can choose to enroll in Engineering Design and/or Independent Research electives. Our students will become engaged in student-driven STEM challenges and will have access to 3D printing, 3D laser-cutting/engraving technologies, coding/robotics and STEM challenge kits for prototyping and testing. In the Independent Research course, students will build “Optical Tweezers” and use them as a tool to write and publish research articles. The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to physicists who developed this technology; key principles require understanding of Physics and Optics, and the building process and research connect to Engineering and Biological Sciences. In the Engineering Design course, students will be engaged in practical problem-solving challenges that weave science, technology, aesthetics and math into the engineering design process. Careers in civil, mechanical, biomedical and environmental engineering will be explored.
Oak Hill Montessori, Shoreview
Exploring Sustainability and the Practice of Science
No matter the weather or season, experiencing nature is a universal canvas for exploration of STEM subject matter. Understanding sustainability and our connection to the land across cultures and generations provides an important foundation for our students’ learning. We plan to create a “living” laboratory within our on-campus geodesic growing dome. This laboratory will offer hands-on learning and exploration related to environmental science, food sustainability, and alternative energy sources. Work within the growing dome will enable students to partner with community members to make connections and apply their learning in the real world. Our students will see the interconnectedness of social, ecological, economic, cultural, and political issues. We intend to encourage students to research and investigate how and why things happen, then make their own decisions about complex environmental issues. By developing and enhancing critical and creative thinking skills, we hope to foster a new generation of informed consumers, workers, and policymakers, passionate about providing a healthy and sustainable future.
Risen Christ Catholic School, Minneapolis
Elementary MakerSpace–Curiosity leads to Innovation
Risen Christ Catholic School would like to create a Makerspace in our building where students can work individually and collaboratively to create, reengineer, explore and problem-solve in a space that is safe for failure and encourages learning from mistakes. Children are naturally curious, and that curiosity can lead them to seek answers to their questions in a hands-on/trial and error way if they have the resources to allow it. In a Makerspace equipped with tools and materials that can be easily used by young students, students can explore and share their ideas with their teachers and peers. In collaboration with our community partner, Sambatek, our students will be introduced to careers in STEM fields and be encouraged to continue educational pursuits that can lead them to those careers.
Southwest Christian High School, Chaska
“Bee Team” – Rooftop Apiary
Southwest Christian High School will maintain an active apiary on the roof of the school. The purpose of this project is to educate students and our community regarding the fragile nature of honeybees and encourage preservation of bees as managed primary pollinators. Students will learn how to: build a hive and install a package of bees; feed and care for the bees; manage hive diseases and pests; harvest, extract, and preserve honey; and successfully overwinter the colonies. Students will learn the complex life cycle of bees, bees’ roles as pollinators, and how neonicotinoid herbicides are affecting bee populations. Student-harvested honey will be donated to local food shelters and auctioned with proceeds designated to assist other schools develop similar programs. A pilot investigation of the viability of this type of project demonstrated a highly valuable learning experience for students, the science program, and the local community. Students will learn how to: best manage resources at their disposal; care for organisms, ensuring their survival and reproduction; communicate with the community and key stakeholders about the honeybee population, and sustain these vital pollinators.
St. Dominic School, Northfield
STEM for Today & the Future: Developing a Hands-On Middle School STEM Program
In the fall of 2019, St. Dominic School will offer a full-day middle school after almost 45 years of dividing the learning day with Northfield Middle School. Our new Middle School STEM program will be key to recruiting and retaining students in this age group. The five-part STEM program we are unveiling addresses new state science standards, the elective interests of the students, and our school’s mission to serve others. The course offerings are designed to make connections and address issues within the school, local, and larger communities. We have selected a variety of hands-on curricula that demonstrate STEM in our daily lives, innovative problem solving, and experiences to spark interest in STEM careers. Whether students are brainstorming viable uses for gray water for the city; building and programming scaled robots to simulate automated problem solving; growing food with aeroponics; creating student directed public service announcements for the school’s social media platforms; engineering and sewing toiletry kits for the local transitional housing program; or using their understanding of measurements and chemical reactions in cooking to improve recipes, we believe we will inspire our students to seek out co