2020 Grant Recipients

STEM Innovation Grants

Academy of Whole Learning, Minnetonka
High School Physical Science Minilab Program (Grades 8-12)
At the Academy of Whole Learning (AOWL), we are excited to continue to build strong, individualized STEM education as we focus on our high school physical science program. Through the use of minilabs, our mixed-grade high school classrooms will explore topics from the NGSS Physical Science strand. Our goal is to provide students with exposure to science and STEM topics that meet their learning level in hands-on, interactive, and meaningful ways. Some of our high- school students are not currently meeting grade-level standards. Others are on track for post-secondary education. Our minilabs will ensure teachers are able to meet the diverse needs of all students. The need for hands-on and interactive learning experiences is critical at AOWL, as our student population largely consists of individuals on the Autism Spectrum and with other learning differences.

Avail Academy, Edina and Blaine
Urban Watershed Sustainability Project (Grades 6 – 12)
In Spring 2019, Avail Academy committed to active STEM engagement with a move to NGSS and hands-on learning at every grade level. Our intent is to increase the competencies of all of our students in STEM-related academic standards. Our Robotics Exploratory, taught for two 45-minute blocks each week, will introduce all middle school students at our Blaine campus to foundational skills in the areas of technology, engineering and computer programming. Our new high school partnership with U of M Coon Creek research on stream mussels will provide a context for the use of STEM to solve real-world problems. It will also prepare students for the PLTW engineering electives at our high school that will begin in Fall 2020.

Benilde-St.Margaret’s, St. Louis Park
Industrial Robotics Simulation Lab (Grades 9 – 12)
Benilde-St.Margaret’s will provide knowledge and skills across all aspects of robotic technology. Robotics has been an essential part of our curriculum for nearly 20 years, and now it’s time to update our curriculum to match the explosion of industrial robotics. We have partnered with LAB Midwest to foster new learning experiences and plan to purchase simulation software from Fanuc (a leading industrial robotics manufacturer) to enhance our robotics program and incorporate industry-relevant skills. Students will learn about real world robotics components and hardware,
programming and software, and basic operation, as well as have a chance to earn robot operator certifications. Students will also have the opportunity to work with functional industrial robots in classroom settings and in industrial practice through local business partnerships.

DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis
Makerspace Revitalization (Grades 9-12)
Our school recognizes the growing demand for students in STEM fields and wants to address those needs by providing students with opportunities to enhance STEM skills, to think creatively in their problem solving, and to have access to materials to meet their needs. We are currently in a multi-year process of developing a STEM curriculum and makerspace. We would like to revitalize our existing makerspace with new supplies and improvements so students can implement STEM skills into modern problem solving and open their minds to creative solutions for today’s problems.

Frassati Catholic Academy, White Bear Lake
STREAM in an Outdoor classroom (Grades K-8)

Frassati Catholic Academy provides a STREAM program that fosters problem solving, creativity, and intellectual curiosity. This project includes development of an outdoor classroom, expanded school gardens, a greenhouse made from recycled materials, and a water awareness fair for our community. In doing so, we will apply the latest research and best practices in environmental education and cultural competency. This grant will help our school: set up a weather station to practice meteorology; collect, analyze, and compare data to historical trends in climate; study phenology, including observations of bird and animal migrations; study plant and tree collections; and practice the art of collecting maple syrup. This grant will also help us create an astronomy lab for observing and collecting space data, teach students how to establish and sustain native gardens, and start a student-led composting effort.

Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, Fergus Falls
You Can Fly! (Grades 9-12)

In response to enthusiastic student interest and inquiries from our local aviation community, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy has added an aerospace track to our program of studies. The curriculum introduces students to aeronautical science, history, and careers. The new track is based on AOPA’s “You Can Fly” STEM aviation curriculum. We have three primary goals: to give students the opportunity to explore aviation, to inspire them to become aviators, and to provide a foundation for further aerospace training. The new aerospace track offers a platform for recruiting students, preparing them with skills needed for aerospace careers, and developing significant partnerships that benefit our students and community.

Hill-Murray School, Maplewood
Creative Arts Tech Club (Grade 6-8)

The Creative Arts Tech Club will explore ways that science and technology intersect with creative arts, thus exposing students to non-traditional STEM projects that will expand their perceptions of STEM. The club’s projects will focus on electricity in crafts and wearables, increasing in complexity as the year progresses. Squishy circuits, paper circuitry, wearables, electronic jewelry, microcontrollers, and basic programming will all be explored. The projects will build confidence in design, troubleshooting, and problem-solving. Speakers from industry and academia will inspire middle schoolers with real-world applications. Targeting students interested in the creative arts will broaden participation in our curricular and extra-curricular high school STEM opportunities to include more girls, students of color, and others that may not be aware of non-traditional applications of STEM.

Holy Spirit School, St. Paul
Girls in Robotics (Grade 6 – 8)

Girls are generally underrepresented in STEM fields. One way to encourage more girls to become involved is to provide opportunities specifically geared towards them. Holy Spirit will create an all-girl FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team to complement a similar team at our school that typically attracts boys. This extracurricular program will focus on engineering design, coding, robot construction skills and the development of an engineering notebook. We have a core group of eight girls who would be the foundation of this new team and serve as STEM ambassadors for the younger girls at Holy Spirit. Our overall goal is to create a pathway to STEM careers for girls at our school.

Sacred Heart School, East Grand Forks
Unmanned Systems / Drone Technology (Grade K-12)

We will utilize this grant to purchase unmanned aerial systems (UAS) technology for our current high school STEM course. This new UAS STEM curriculum will show students how technology, computers, robotics, and drones are interconnected and affect our daily lives by introducing them to an industry that is growing in our geographical region. Students will learn to code/program, follow diagrams, build, and discuss scientific applications. Through our community partnerships, we will demonstrate the real-world uses of drones and open students’ eyes to potential careers. As part of this project, we also plan to conduct UAS demonstrations for our elementary-aged students.

Southwest Christian High School, Chaska
Protein Conjugates for Medical Testing (Grades 11 and 12)

The Protein Conjugate project provides students with a realistic work experience. Students in college level chemistry at SWCHS will make a protein conjugate and develop a medical test for use in a microplate system. The test materials, equipment, and procedure will then be transferred to Mayer Lutheran where 9-12 grade science students will run the test. SWCHS students will learn basic biochemical techniques such as protein conjugation, size exclusion chromatography, and immunoassay test development. Students will rotate through three functions: Project Management, Development, and Quality Control. Mayer Students will provide the Manufacturing function, learning the fundamentals of microplate immunoassay and experiencing the process of product transfer from development to manufacturing. This project gives students the opportunity to apply classwork (chemistry, engineering and math) to a current technology in a model of a workplace environment.

St. Boniface School, Cold Spring
Learning About Electricity is ELECTRIFYING! (Grades 4, 6)

In 4th grade, students will learn about the flow of electricity and electric circuits and then demonstrate their learning by wiring a model house. In 6th grade, students will learn about electricity in physics units on energy, magnets, and motors. We have found that our current unit materials have rapidly become obsolete. Also, we have discovered a need for more exploration and project-based skills to strengthen engineering concepts. With this project, we aim to improve this area of study to reflect the needs of our 21st century learners. Our overall purpose of this project is to add exploration with circuit and robotics kits, and a more concrete understanding of electrical energy.

St. Croix Lutheran Academy, West St. Paul
Drone Racing (Grades K-12)

With the rise in recognition of the importance of STEM education, SCL aims to offer opportunities to students both inside and outside of the classroom to cultivate their STEM skills and knowledge. To that end, SCL proposes to start a Drone Racing Team. In this league, students receive kits to build their own drones and participate in competitions starting in the Spring of 2021. Students will be introduced to and be able to apply concepts related to: mechanical, electrical, aerospace, and software engineering, as well as spatial and industrial design, physics, and mathematics.

St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School, Mahtomedi
Greenhouse Garden: Greens for Good (Grades K-5)

We plan to “grow” our Aquaponics for All program by adding a greenhouse teaching space to our campus. Students will learn how a greenhouse operates, including how to construct and grow plants in a greenhouse. Our Greenhouse Garden will provide opportunities to explore Earth, Physical, and Life Sciences. The greenhouse will be a useful tool in our transition to the new MN State Science standards, providing an exceptional hands-on and meaningful experience for students, that addresses all seven of the Crosscutting Concepts. St. Jude plans to collaborate with our local food shelf connected to our school as well as our school cafeteria to provide food for our community.

St. Paul’s Lutheran School, New Ulm
Hands-on STEM for All (Grades K-5)

In 2019, St. Paul’s Lutheran School built a STEM lab as part of a renovation and new addition to our school. Our stakeholders and faculty saw the need for this space based on the increase in STEM related jobs in today’s world. This winter we established a partnership with Martin Luther College and the students in their STEM Club, who will provide valuable expertise and resources for our STEM program. This grant allows us to expand our STEM curriculum to grades K-6 using a leveled approach. Our goal is to have students use 21st century skills as they integrate science, mathematics and engineering. These skills will be reinforced and expanded each year with a final goal of 8th grade graduates being well-prepared for STEM courses in high school.

St. Peter Claver Catholic School, St. Paul SPC’s
First FLL Teams (Grades K-8)

SPC’s FLL Teams for grades K-3 and 5-8 will introduce scholars to foundational skills in technology, engineering, and computer programming. Robotics club experiences will impart lessons on collaboration and communication as well as learning from failures and adversity as students solve complex problems. Teams will participate in internal challenges as well as enter at least one local tournament, and the 5-8 FLL Team will mentor our K-3 team. In support of this work, SPC is building a broader partnership with PaR Systems to introduce our scholars to the possibilities in a world that is becoming more STEM-focused. In addition to assisting directly with the robotics club, PaR will provide coaching to our staff and mentor scholars in career exploration in technical areas.

Sunny Hollow Montessori, St. Paul
Rain Garden project (Grades K-8)

By creating a rain garden, students will learn by doing as they integrate concepts of biology, physics, engineering and math; learn about ecology and natural history; develop a wide range of STEM skills; and express ideas through language and art. K-8 students will also focus on the need to incorporate environmentally responsible practices into our communities and lives. Students will gain hands-on experience in complex math calculations, create a complex ecological model of a prairie, and have daily opportunities to research, explore, and share their findings through reports, poetry, graphs, art, and community outreach. Most importantly, students will create positive environmental change within our garden space and within our community. This project will provide a generation of children with tools to tackle environmental challenges they will face as adults.

West Lutheran High School, Plymouth
Engineering Capstone Course and Fab-Lab (Grades 11-12)

West Lutheran High School is completing the curriculum for its engineering track by offering a capstone course. West’s STEM offerings include a semester-long course for all 9th graders that involves engineering design, electronics, 3D printing and coding. An elective engineering program available to all grades offers Project Lead the Way courses. Our intent is to tie these courses together by providing a capstone course for 11-12th graders that challenges students to apply previously learned skills by designing, prototyping and building larger, in-depth projects in a fab-lab like setting. During the year participants will build a website portfolio suitable for applying to post-secondary programs, scholarship/grants, internship applications, etc. A highlight of the course is a service-focused class design/build project. Mentorship and community relations will be integral to the course.

STEM Starter Grants

Holy Spirit School, Rochester
Holy Spirit STREAM Lab (Grades K-5)

Holy Spirit School is in the first year of implementing a STREAM curriculum for students in grades K-5. Exploration of science, math, and technology concepts combined with the arts creates critical thinkers and increases STREAM literacy. To facilitate STREAM activities, we have outfitted a classroom with supplies for students to create, design and solve problems. A well-equipped space will help students to improve upon our hands-on approach to engineering design and align with NGSS standards for science and engineering.

Rochester Arts & Sciences Academy, Rochester
Expanding our Maker Space (Grades K-5)

We will improve our Maker Space club, as well as integrate a Maker Space lab that we can incorporate into our everyday curriculum. We plan to purchase Rigamajig Jr. building blocks and accessories to improve and expand the program. Our goal is to create a mobile Maker Space lab that is used often by all teachers to give students freedom to incorporate play, engineering, and imaginative making into the everyday classroom through open-ended projects and giving students the opportunity to bring their ideas to life. This will offer students a safe space to fail, learn from mistakes, and build confidence. The Maker Space lab will also be designed to complement our science curriculum, focusing on simple machines, force and motion, and building structures.

Saint Rose of Lima Catholic School, St. Paul
STEM Program Extension (Grades K-5)

St. Rose of Lima plans to purchase Elementary is Engineering