Shaler Area receives $35K STEAM grant
It’s full steam ahead for Shaler Area kindergartners through eighth-graders interested in computer science, engineering and technology, thanks to a $35,000 targeted PAsmart Grant.
The district will implement the grant, courtesy of Gov. Tom Wolf’s PAsmart initiative, in phases, according to Eloise Milligan, Shaler Area academic services coordinator. During phase one, educators will complete Computer Science Teachers Association Standards-based training. The initial step will conclude in summer 2019.
Milligan said the district has an established STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math) program starting in kindergarten and evolving through elementary school.
“At all levels, there is a component to provide parent resources so they may support their learner at home,” she said.
Phase two will consist of leaders purchasing the “equipment, resources, and materials” to apply what the educators learned during phase one.
The goal is to develop curriculum and lesson plans utilizing the training and equipment for the 2019-20 school year, Milligan said.
PAsmart Grant is a more than $31 million investment in education and workforce development, with $20 million focused on computer science and STEM education, according to a November 2018 PAsmart Grant webinar.
“With PAsmart, Pennsylvania will have the most prepared and talented workforce in the country, which will help businesses succeed, grow the middle class and strengthen the economy for everyone,” said Wolf in a November 2018 news release. “We are partnering with private industry and schools to strategically invest in science and technology education, expand apprenticeships and increase on-the-job training for good careers.”
Wolf’s Middle Class Task Force, composed of business, labor, education and workforce development leaders, established PAsmart.
“PAsmart fills a gap for us at the K through 8 level so our students can make informed decisions regarding a career pathway in STEM careers when entering high school,” Milligan said.
The governor’s office released a document stating that “over the next decade, seven in 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use a computer, and an estimated 300,000 STEM jobs would be available in the commonwealth” through November 2019.
Milligan noted that STEAM careers change often, and PAsmart provides teachers with the tools to teach the most current standards and principles. Moreover, it grants students access to “project-based interdisciplinary learning,” and allows teachers to present guardians with information about relevant careers.
She said that the targeted grant “seeks to identify districts with a need for resources” and economically disadvantaged students. The district may apply for the other PAsmart grant type in the future.
Erica Cebzanov is a