Salt River Elementary School has been selected as one of seven Arizona schools to participate in the Helios STEM School Pilot Program. The seven sites will receive a total of $1.85 million in financial and technical support to implement STEM programs and activities into their curricula over the next three years. The seven schools were chosen in April from a pool of 57 public and charter school applicants statewide.
STEM stands for the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As part of the STEM Network, Helios Education Foundation and Science Foundation Arizona are working to develop and coordinate an effective STEM education system by providing the resources needed to improve educational outcomes for Arizona students. The purpose of the Helios STEM School Pilot Program is “to identify models of effective implementation of STEM education, teaching and learning that can be sustained, measured and replicated throughout Arizona in the future.”
“This is an excellent program that the youth need to be a part of,” said SRES instructor and Robotics Club coach Angelo Fernando.
The seven schools were chosen after a rigorous grant-application process, Fernando said. Salt River Elementary applied for the Helios grant in November 2012, and was notified of their selection on April 9, 2013. The grant proposal was written by first-grade instructor Lynette Charlie and Grants & Special Projects Administrator of Education Chris McIntier.
“The purpose of the Helios STEM School Pilot Program is to support schools with the integration of STEM programs that are aligned with Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards by ensuring that teachers and students are equipped with the knowledge, resources and skills to obtain a quality STEM learning experience,” said Charlie.
The Salt River STEM Eagle Project consists of a team of instructors, administrators, a school board member and community resources. The objective is to enhance and foster hands-on interdisciplinary activities in the STEM content areas, said Charlie. Now that it has been selected as a Helios STEM school, “Salt River Elementary School can look forward to a STEM after-school program, continuation of the Robotics Program, increased professional development for teachers in the STEM content areas, and extracurricular activities outside the school day.”
“Participating STEM pilot sites from pre-kindergarten to the high school level are helping to create a path that will shape Arizona’s education system and ready both teachers and students for Common Core State Standards,” said William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona. The STEM School Pilot Program is designed to improve student outcomes and success rates, increase student readiness for advanced math and science courses, and better prepare students for college and career success.
“Science and engineering are integral parts of participating in a competitive global society,” said Charlie. “The emphasis on learning science, technology and engineering concepts involves evolution, and Salt River Elementary is ready to evolve. This funding will allow us to build a solid and sustainable in-school and after-school STEM program that makes a difference in the lives of our young people.”
This summer, Salt River Elementary already is sending seven girls to the Arizona State University summer science camp, three boys to the Arizona Science Center summer camp, and four Family and Child Education (FACE) Program students to the Arizona Science Center summer camp.
Helios Education Foundation
Helios Education Foundation is focused on creating a high-expectation, college-going culture in Arizona and Florida by investing in initiatives that create opportunities for postsecondary education success. The foundation focuses its investments in three key impact areas: early childhood education, the transition years and postsecondary scholarships. Since 2006, Helios has invested more than $125 million in education-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida. For more information, visit www.helios.org.
Science Foundation Arizona
Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization initiated in 2006 by the Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc., Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Flagstaff Forty in conjunction with the executive and legislative branches of state government. SFAz serves as a catalyst for high-wage, knowledge-based jobs and economic diversity through administration and strict oversight of research, development and education grants to public education and other nonprofit research-performing institutions. For more information, visit www.sfaz.org.