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STEM WEST EXPANSION
This summer STEM West received another round of funding from Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Duke Energy Foundation to expand its service area. Originally serving Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, and Lincoln counties, it now serves McDowell, Polk, and Rutherford. The funding provided for four weeks of professional development across this region. Filling the Gap was offered for 17 teachers. This program partners educators with their local STEM businesses to create and implement project based learning (PBL) units. These units are created to focus on a need in that business this July. The educators received stipends and $200 for materials/field trips related to the PBL unit.
The other project was the creation of an additional 35 GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) clubs for elementary and middle schools this August. This is in addition to the 25 that were started last fall. The educators were received a stipend for the training and $200 for club supplies. These new clubs have the opportunity to reach over 900 young girls to engage them in STEM activities and careers.
STEM West is the educational arm of workforce development of Western Piedmont Council of Governments and is directed by Dr. Carol Moore, NCSTA President-Elect and NCSLA Director At-Large.
CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG SCHOOLS PARTNER WITH WE SHARE SOLAR AND WELLS FARGO
This summer, teachers from 20 middle and high schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teamed up with non-profit We Share Solar to educate and inspire students to be the next generations of environmental leaders and changemakers. By combining STEM education with real-world applicability, teachers cultivate students’ interests in clean energy and inspire them to meet an immediate societal need by deploying the solar energy to schools, refugee camps and community centers in the developing world that lack electricity. The program provides students the opportunity to build a small portable photovoltaic lighting system known as a We Share Solar Suitcase®, a stand-alone, fully operational solar system.
Teachers attended a 2-day professional development workshop that trained them on how to teach solar electricity using the Solar Suitcase as a platform for learning. They returned to their schools with curriculum and student kits...all fully funded by Wells Fargo and Jim & M.A. Rogers.
Students will work with volunteers from Wells Fargo throughout the fall and build the solar systems by the beginning of November. Student-built suitcases are delivered to areas of need in Kenya and are installed in schools to benefit the students there as they study for their exams.
NEWTON-CONOVER CITY SCHOOLS AWARDED GRANTS
Newton-Conover City Schools Awarded Coding and Mobile App Development Grant
On August 1, 2018, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction notified Newton-Conover City Schools that the district is to receive a $75,000 Coding and Mobile App Development Grant from the state of North Carolina. The grant is designed to support partnerships with local businesses to help schools develop computer science, coding and mobile app development programs for middle and high school students.
According to Superintendent Johnson, “This innovative program is providing North Carolina students the opportunity to learn computer science, coding and mobile app development to help them gain key skills in high demand in the 21st-century economy.”
Specifically, a consortium of Catawba County Schools, Hickory Public Schools, and Newton-Conover will use the grant funding to develop a computer science curriculum aligned with input from business partners, current higher-education curriculum, and Catawba Valley Community College Faculty. District teachers will then be trained by Catawba Valley Community College and will also visit local businesses to learn more about how coding is used. After training, teachers will conduct student coding camps in their schools and identify student leaders interested in computer science careers. These students will then work with the teacher to promote coding clubs, activities, and enrichment within that school, as well as the embedding of coding throughout instruction.
Newton-Conover was one of 14 school districts receiving the grant for the 2018-19 school year.
Newton-Conover City Schools Awarded Digital Teaching and Learning Innovative Academy Grant
Nearly three-dozen school districts and charter schools across North Carolina will share $2.18 million in grant funding during the 2018-19 school year to advance digital-age teaching and learning through locally developed initiatives. After three levels of competitive assessment, Newton-Conover City Schools is proud to announce its selection as one of four school districts in the state to receive an Innovation Academy Grant.
According to NCDPI, the four districts receiving the three-year innovation academy grants — $100,000 per year for each – are leaders in the state in digital teaching and learning and will share their experience and knowledge with educators from other districts through model demonstration sites and ongoing professional development.
State Superintendent Mark Johnson said the increasing interest in the grant program is a clear signal that districts and schools are eager to embrace digital teaching and learning for teachers and students.
“These promising initiatives will help North Carolina continue to innovate in the classroom and advance on its goal of providing all students with personalized, digital-age learning,” Johnson said. “Once these efforts show success for students, they can be scaled and replicated elsewhere in the state.”
The work of each grantee will focus on supporting the state’s digital learning competencies for educators and other initiatives such as micro-credentialing and digital literacies. Many of the approved grants focus on providing resources for professional development, seen as a critical foundation supporting the adoption of effective approaches to digital learning the state’s schools.
In addition to the four innovation academies, grants were awarded for two other different types of projects: planning and implementation. A total of 10 planning grants were approved for eight districts and two charter schools, most for $50,000, for efforts ranging from improving professional development for teachers to developing an online library of effective personalized learning practices. Nineteen districts were awarded two-year implementation grants, most for $75,000 for each of the two years, including an innovative partnership between two districts in the northeastern part of the state and the development of a published set of easily replicable standards-based mini-projects that incorporate digital learning and other innovative learning approaches.
The grant initiative was authorized in 2016 by the General Assembly as part of a collaboration between the State Board of Education and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University to advance the state’s Digital Learning Plan. The goal of that plan is to develop a long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides resources to enable educators and students to benefit fully from digital-age teaching and learning.