Five Schools Awarded Funds from VDOE for STEM Competition
Five Fairfax County public schools have been awarded a total of $10,000 in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Competition Team Grants from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The grants support project-based, team activities that increase student awareness of careers in STEM. STEM Competition Team Grants are available to schools with at least 40 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals.
The schools and their projects are:
- Braddock Elementary School, which plans to take their VEX IQ robotics program virtual and engage seventy students in grades 3-5 in robotics, many of whom have never interacted with a robot. STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) resource teacher Joyce Matthews says, “It is such a wonderful sight to watch the children’s faces the first time they get the robot to move and perform a task! Opening doors of opportunities for our students is our number one focus.
- Glen Forest Elementary School, which plans to fund Lego Robotics kits for a new Game Changers in Action after-school program with 18 fourth grade students, including a STEM competition team.
- Saratoga Elementary School will offer students the opportunity to use technology by coding and programming micro:bits through obstacle courses, engaging 20 students in robotics. The funds will enable students to experience first-hand how technology helps professionals in different types of STEM careers to solve a problem according to Beth Polanksy, advanced academics teacher.
- Weyanoke Elementary School will use grant funds to increase underrepresented student engagement in robotics. In recent years, the school’s robotics program has had a waitlist. Principal Felicia Usher says students who have participated in the robotics club are excited about learning to code and learn more about STEM. A partnership with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology students and Weyanoke teachers has generated even more interest.
- Woodley Hills Elementary School will support students participating in their very first FIRST Lego League competition, starting with 20 students in grades 4-6. As part of the school’s belief that every student can engage in high rigor tasks, all of the school’s teachers are encouraged to participate in advanced academics training to bring challenging curricula to the mainstream classroom.
FCPS schools are leading STEM Competitions Team Grant programs that engage students in STEAM (STEM plus arts) and computer science. Students apply engineering and computational thinking practices to test and improve their designs and solve team challenges.