There are some truly creative educators throughout Washington teaching STEM education with a bare minimum of resources. At River View High School in Kennewick, Ms. Yochum is teaching science using water tubs in an old bus barn. At Centralia High School, students are creating scientific models on computers housed in a tight storage space. Robotics at Kettle Falls High School is taught in a thirty-three year old metal shop and students have to travel to a different level of the building to access the tools and electronics they need. These circumstances are common – especially for rural students or students in low income areas.
However, it’s not rocket science to figure out that a student’s STEM learning improves exponentially with access to modern and innovative classroom facilities and high tech equipment. A great learning space engages student imagination and creativity. They’ll enter the workforce, technical training, or college familiar with the latest equipment and ready to go with little ramp up.
That’s why we’ve been happy to work with the Washington State Legislature and Governor over the past year as they’ve funded and implemented the STEM Capital Grants Program, utilizing $12 million from the STEM grant and about $7.2 million through the School Construction Assistance Program to construct or modernize science and science lab classrooms.
Thirty-four school districts submitted sixty-six project proposals for STEM Capital Grants funding. If all of these projects were fully funded the total bill would come to $130 million. This gap between money available and money requested speaks to the strong need across the state for these STEM capital resources.
Washington STEM plans to continue to advocate for increased resources from the state so students across the state have access to the latest facilities. In the meantime, we’re pleased to share the six projects that were selected. These projects will enrich the STEM learning experiences of hundreds of students each year going forward. Here’s a quick rundown:
Centralia High School in Centralia is currently running their STEM programs out of 12 portables and are finding they can’t meet the needs of students. They’re going to create a new standalone science facility with eight new science classrooms. Four of those classrooms will be fully equipped science lab spaces that match the integrity of their notable molecular biology program.
Kettle Falls High School in the Kettle Falls School District will be converting an outdated metal shop area into a Maker Space/Fabrication lab so students can safely design, create, test, and produce engineering projects. They’ll also improve their existing science lab facilities.
Lakeside High School in Nine Mile Falls will add a new building with two lab classrooms and a shared stockroom. While previous classrooms lacked access to water, gas, electrical outlets, internet ports, and the space to engage students in engineering challenges, these new spaces will allow them to fully meet the demands of the Next Generation Science Standards and set their students up for success.
River View High in Finley will update their shop classrooms and create a separate wood and metal shop, 2 CTE classrooms, and 2 greenhouses. Students will be able to take a deep dive into the science of plants and animals through Animal Science, Floriculture, and Horticulture Science offerings. They’ll also be able to take a 3D printing class and explore a new bio-tech lab.
Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce School District will build a state of the art STEM classroom and lab space. Educators will work across disciplines to offer course like Aerospace Manufacturing and Composites, Principles of Engineering, Intro. to Engineering Design, Medical Interventions, Human Body Systems, and Principles of Bio Medicine.
W.F. West High School in Chehalis will build a new STEM wing that includes six new science lab classrooms. Students in the new STEM wing will build robots in the new engineering/robotics lab, analyze microorganism behavior in the cell culture lab, and gaze through a brand new electron microscope in the molecular genetics lab.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can help advocate for additional funding for improvements to STEM facilities, please contact us. And watch this space for updates on these great projects.