Breitung Township Schools hope to be STEM hub for small, UP school districts
The State of Michigan gave out more than $3 million in grants to 21 schools' STEM programs. More than $78,000 of that is going to Breitung Township Schools.
"When you have over 300 applications filed, predominately from downstate schools and large schools, and only 21 are accepted and one of them is us - I mean, that's huge,” MiSTEM Grant Coordinator Amanda Gibbons said. “That was a really exciting thing. We're going to be able to impact a lot of different populations with this grant."
The money will be going towards starting Project Lead the Way. This nationwide organization helps bring more STEM opportunities to schools across the country.
"The supply of quality materials and the quality materials that are out there are expensive,” Gibbons added. “They require special training. It's not something that is easily within reach for a district without a lot of initial funding and a lot of work on the teachers’ part."
"We have been trying to implement these STEM initiatives over the years and we've been very successful,” Superintendent Craig Allen said. “We've been doing a lot of K-12 implementations of different strategies for different grade levels and now this is really going to be a codifier for bringing a sustainable STEM initiatives into the district."
They're now looking for people in the area to train for this project. Once they're certified, they'll be able to come back and train other teachers.
"We hope to be kind of the hub for the western U.P. allowing them to access our expertise, to bring programming into the smaller districts that you may not have been able to bring them before,” Gibbons said.
The school is expecting an expanded program will get more students interested.
"Hopefully in the elementary level, it'll reach more girls and get girls more interested in engineering,” Technology Director Jean Constantini said. “They say by third grade if you don't have girls interested in science and engineering, you may have lost them."
The project will begin with those younger students and be taught through high school.