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 coursework and careers in STEM beyond their years at our school.
St. Joseph School, Waconia
Making STEM Integration a Reality
St. Joseph’s C-STEM school would use this Grant to introduce robotics and control technologies to our kindergarten through second grade students. This will prepare students to work with more advanced robotics that St. Joe’s already have in place starting in third grade. Using Dash, Ozobot, and Sphero robots will allow K-2 teachers to integrate multiple subject matters together, which will further our school’s goal of STEM integration. This grant will allow our school to replenish and provide supplies for our 3D printer to teach students about computer graphics. Utilizing our 3D printer to a greater capacity than just the middle school curriculum can allow for a greater depth of understanding in the world of 3D printing. Students in K-2 can create 3D printed items that will become part of their robot path or accessories for their robot to expand beyond the initial curriculum provided with the robots.
St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School, White Bear Lake
Aquaponics For All (AFA)–An Edible Education (partnership with Hill Murray)
Grades PK-5, 8-12
St. Jude plans to provide an aquaponics system for our Aquaponics-For-All (AFA) program. Through sustainable farming to raise fish and vegetables in an integrated, soilless system, AFA will engage staff and students in a collaborative, community-embedded mission that provides a unique, hands-on, integrative STEM learning experience and a food source to benefit the community for years to come.
We will partner with the Hill-Murray High School Aquaponics Club so that students from both schools can learn from one another. Hill-Murray students will mentor the St. Jude students throughout the school year, helping them set up, maintain, and care for the system. St. Jude students are committed to serving their community and helping those in need. It is with great hope that we could provide lettuce for our local food shelf, fundraisers with Hill-Murray, and our in-house lunch program. Thus, AFA will instill in our students Catholic Social Teachings of helping others, Call to Community and Care for God’s Creation. AFA will create an STEM-based curriculum that is collaborative, student-centered, community-embedded and relevant to students’ lives.
2019-20 STEM Sustainability Grants
Christian Heritage Academy, Lakeville
Engaging Students with Engineering Design
In 2016, Christian Heritage Academy applied for and was honored to receive a STEM Starter Grant. The grant allowed our school to bring materials into the classroom that provided opportunities for students to learn and explore concepts related to engineering design. This taught students to define problems, design solutions, build, test, analyze results, and make revisions to their plans. These projects were built into the classroom lessons taught in third through eighth grade science classes. Younger students had fun learning about circuitry through their experimental work with Snap Circuits. After learning about electric currents, students created their own LED projects that further explored concepts of circuitry. In older grades, students learned soldering skills while creating their own light up art pieces using batteries, switches, wires, and light bulbs. Makey Makey kits brought coding lessons students learned using Scratch to life as they experimented with conductive materials around them. Students were able to share their work with their family and community members at an annual academic expo. As our program has grown to include more students, there is a need for more supplies to continue our students’ exploration in STEM.
Nativity of Mary Catholic School, Bloomington
Sustaining and Enhancing our Makerspace/STEM Innovators
Thanks to our 2017 Starter Grant and our 2018 Innovation Grant, Nativity of Mary was able to provide our Grades 1-6 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. Our Makerspace allows a student to be inspired and view themselves as both creative thinker and problem solver. The goal of this grant is to sustain our Makerspace with enriched learning experiences through the use of materials. We plan to continue to provide authentic professional development for our teachers. In addition, we want to scale our Makedo and our Dash and Dot to reach more students, allowing a class or two small groups to code and our younger students to tinker and create. This grant will also allow Nativity to replace and update materials that are necessary to problem solving and collaborating as well as update our curriculum materials to expand to grades K-8.
Southwest Christian High School, Chaska
High Altitude Balloon STEM Research Project
The High-Altitude Balloon (HAB) STEM Research project seeks to continue its work with high school students. Utilizing additional funding, the HAB STEM team can continue conducting both tethered and released launches, furthering student understanding of near space and requisite STEM content. The funding also allows for experimentation with hydrogen gas as our propellant. Currently, students are executing their tasks to ensure a successful build, launch and retrieval. Construction is well underway and the final pieces of equipment are being secured through Near Space Launch. We have registered with the Global Space Balloon Challenge launch for a launch this year and hope to continue in next year’s challenge.
2019-20 STEM Starter Grants
Carondelet Catholic School, Minneapolis
Maker Space Expansion
Students, teachers and families have positive feedback about Carondelet’s new Maker Space class for preK-second grade students. For its second year, we’re looking to improve and expand the program, and a STEM Starter grant will help fund supplies and training to do so. Our vision is to create a space that is used often—not just by the Maker Space instructor—to give students a place and time to tinker with open-ended projects, collaborate with peers, store creations that need more work, and delve into the engineering aspects of our FOSS science curriculum. The Maker Space will be a workshop fully stocked with tools for creating, a place where teachers and students can leave unfinished projects out without putting everything away before moving on to the next subject. In order to achieve this, a team of teachers representing each grade level will meet to learn more about how a Maker Space fits into our science curriculum and plan the logistics of how it can become a shared space for creative thinking across the curriculum.
King of Kings Lutheran School, Roseville
At King of Kings Lutheran School, we seek to introduce our students to coding through robotics. Our students’ interaction with this active learning tool will have myriad learning outcomes for all students, from prekindergarten through eighth grade. Younger students will see cause and effect in action and older students will learn how coding algorithms drive processes in technology. Students will work as an individuals and in teams to learn to approach complex problems logically, through critical and sequential thinking. Throughout this process, students will build confidence and see coding as an approachable practice, especially those students who feel that math or science is not a personal strength. Throughout the world, apps and devices are impacting how efficiently people use their time and resources. Coding for these technologies is critical in determining functionality and usability, making coding skills incredibly applicable throughout the STEM fields. Our goal is to prepare our students to become the next innovative leaders in technology.
Mary Queen of Peace School, Rogers
LEGO Simple Machines
Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School is in its second year of its STEM program. Students participate in STEM class once each week. At this point, our lessons are focused on the engineering design process, and use mostly consumable products. We are hoping to expand and enrich our STEM curriculum. With this grant we would like invest in LEGO Simple Machines kits for the classroom. These hands-on kits promote creativity, collaborative thinking, and encourage communication. We also feel these kits would help our students further understand and appreciate the engineering design process that they have studied for the past two years. The LEGO kits would provide a great enrichment opportunity for our first through fifth graders.
Notre Dame Academy, Minnetonka
Computational Thinking: Using Ideas to Solve Problems with Coding & Robotics
Notre Dame Academy has been participating in the First Lego League robotics challenge with students starting in fourth grade. In order to fully support engagement in STEM activities beginning at an earlier age, this project will increase the opportunities and instructional time that students have for hands-on activities with coding and robotics, beginning in kindergarten up through grade 5. STEM literacy skills are not optional for today’s students. Coding and robotics bring physical hands-on interaction to the process of understanding engineering and programming concepts while adding in the social interaction of collaborating with classmates while problem solving.
St. Paul’s Lutheran School, New Ulm
Hands On-Inquiry for All
Students will design, build, test, analyze, modify, learn, and even fail so they learn to keep trying. We will be using a new STEM lab for the first time, so with more space to explore, we can expand our experimentation and learning. This grant will allow us to purchase some fun supplies to ignite student curiosity. The areas of focus include forces and motion, simple machines, magnetism, electricity, circuitry, design, and overall creativity and exploration. A wind tunnel is also being planned to be used for testing parachutes and wind turbines. Understanding how wind can turn a turbine and create electricity will help us understand the generation of power, circuitry, and then how it is used in the power grid.
Trinity Lutheran School, Waconia
Creator Space 3D Printing
Our school recently developed a Creator Space Lab for our students to create and explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. We now want to take our Creator Space to the next level. Having 3D Printers available to our students will create a new level of excitement and engagement as students collaborate to see their designs come to life. These 3D Printers will benefit our school and students as they develop new knowledge and skills as they see the relevance STEAM has to their everyday life and work.