SEATTLE, Aug. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to improving education in science, technology, engineering, and math, announced more than $1.2 million in new investments today, ranging from simple kits that help young children build STEM skills at home to an ambitious plan to spread a proven strategy for improving math and science instruction for disadvantaged students.
The latest round of investments from Washington STEM are divided into two types: small entrepreneur awards designed to let teachers, schools, and districts try new ideas for improving STEM education; and larger portfolio awards aimed at spreading proven strategies across the state.
"We're supporting innovative educators and researchers as they develop new techniques for teaching science, technology, engineering and math," said Patrick D'Amelio, CEO of Washington STEM. "And we're taking the very best of those STEM practices and positioning them to scale up so all kids can benefit."
For example, one of the smaller investments will help central Washington teachers create simple interactive kits that families can use to boost young kids' knowledge through easily-followed, hands-on learning experiences. Initially the kits will be distributed to families in the Yakama Nation and the Colville Federated Tribes, but the long-term goal is to prepare students from other high-need populations to enter kindergarten ready to thrive.
"Many of the families in our area don't have access to the kind of pre-kindergarten educational opportunities available in larger cities," said Ann Sipe of Educational Service District 105. "These experiences will take place in and around the children's homes. We will be working with Head Start kits that will give preschool age children experiences in discovery, inquiry, and problem solving."
With larger investments, Washington STEM is enhancing proven projects such as Developing Networked Improvement Communities for High Quality Mathematics and Science Teaching, a University of Washington project that has helped rapidly transform low-performing schools into places where students achieve, despite poverty and language barriers. The designers of this project will use $460,000 to improve and expand the program so it can be implemented in many places.
"We are excited to work with a talented group of educators and leaders to create a strong network of schools where students experience success and joy in doing mathematics and science," said Elham Kazemi, associate professor at the UW and leader of the project. "Washington STEM's investment will enable us to connect schools and spread high quality practices throughout the state."
To date, Washington STEM has invested $4.1 million across the state, impacting over 24,000 students and 800 teachers. To see a full list of Washington STEM investments, please visit http://washingtonstem.org/investments.asp.
About Washington STEM: Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to advancing innovation, equity, and excellence in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Launched in March 2011, Washington STEM partners with education, business, and community leaders to bridge opportunities in education and economy that reimagine STEM education for all students, starting with those most underserved and underrepresented in STEM fields. Learn more at www.washingtonstem.org, join the conversation at Facebook, or follow STEM on Twitter @washingtonstem.
Contact: Paul Queary
SOURCE Washington STEM