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Battelle awards over $300,000 to take STEM education to the next level

Operator of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory builds paths to science, technology, engineering and math careers

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July 25, 2016 Share This!

Issued by Battelle

  • Students learn cybersecurity skills at a 2016 hacker camp held at Delta High School, with help from PNNL STEM education consultant Ann Wright-Mockler.

  • Forget robot rebellions, at the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory hacker camp at Delta High School, students used their newly learned computer skills to control various gizmos.

  • New buildings, teacher workshops and robotic arms are some of the ways Battelle staff and funds support science, technology, engineering and mathematics education across Washington state. Pictured here, a student flexes her prosthetic arm, which was engineered for a Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) competition.
    Courtesy of MESA

  • Teachers spend a day in the life of a scientist as they conduct environmental research in the Tri-Cities area—dust and tumbleweeds included. The experience, part of STEM-It Now, a program that brings scientists and educators together to improve STEM curriculum.

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RICHLAND, Wash. — A box of lenses, microscopes and bugs for first graders. A computer game that takes middle school on an adventure where they learn to code. A one-on-one conversation with a scientist that leads to a high school internship. Or a first-place ribbon at a science fair. Then, ultimately, a career.

Students have more and more opportunities to get pumped about science, engineering, technology and mathematics, thanks to a host of STEM education organizations across the Tri-Cities and Washington state. Battelle — operator of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory — has boosted that network this month, awarding over $300,000 in grants to benefit K-12 schools, higher education institutions, community partnerships and other non-profit organizations.

"Great STEM education starts by planting seeds of passion and curiosity in young minds," said Jeff Estes, director of the Office of STEM Education at PNNL. "But we don't stop there. We must see to the growth of these students every step of the way-from elementary school to college."

Estes estimates that hundreds of educators and thousands of students will benefit from the programs supported by these grants. Since 1965, Battelle has contributed over $11 million to STEM education. But it's not all about the money.

"As a national research institution, Battelle leverages its scientists, engineers and STEM education coordinators at PNNL to work with educators and students in our community," Estes said. "That's how we take STEM education to the next level."

Battelle's grants will support these activities:

STEM does compute. The Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory will help teachers integrate computer science into middle school math and science classes.

Straight from the scientists. The Collaboratory will bring scientists and teachers together to improve STEM curriculum through its STEM-It Now workshop. In the program, teachers accompany scientists to help with their work — for example, collecting data on plants and wildlife around the Tri-Cities. The field experience then helps connect classroom topics to real science, like ecology and the shrub-steppe environment students see every day.

Next generation now. The Washington State Leadership & Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) will provide more than 100 education leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to design, implement and sustain high-quality STEM education programs, elementary through high school. Approximately 40 leaders from 10 LASER regions across the state will engage in workshops focused on implementing the Next Generation Science Standards with fidelity. The NGSS Workshops for Educators takes place in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017. Another 60 classroom and district leaders will participate in a week-long leadership institute next June. The STEM Education Leadership Institute provides a roadmap, with multiple routes, by which K-12 schools in Washington can address state legislation and gubernatorial recommendations for STEM education.

Science in a box — just add students. The Southeast Washington LASER Alliance will update "kit modules" used in classrooms to teach physical, Earth and space, and life science units. Each kit contains everything a teacher needs — materials, equipment, lesson plans and more — to teach hands-on, inquiry-centered science curriculum. The Battelle Science Resource Center, operated out of the Kennewick School District, manages this extensive system rotating and distributing about 3,000 kits a year to kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms across our region.

Beyond textbooks. Delta High School will establish a gold standard for project based learning, a method where students acquire deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world problems and challenges.

STEM for all. Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) will build pathways and careers in STEM for traditionally underrepresented students, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Pacific Islanders and women. MESA will add new curriculum projects, more competitions and increase MESA Day participation.

Ready, set, STEM. Partnership for Learning, the education foundation of the Washington Roundtable, will conduct research to improve education in the state so that students graduate from high school ready for STEM careers and higher education.

Laying the foundation. Finley School District will renovate their current Career and Technical Education (CTE) building, including the addition of a new science classroom.

Tags: Operations

Battelle LogoEvery day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. Battelle has managed and operated the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., since the laboratory's inception in 1965.

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