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Arkansas STEM Donates Science Equipment to SWMS

The Arkansas STEM Coalition, in partnership with the STEM Center at the Harding University announces the award of $3,000 in science equipment to Southwest Middle School for use in grades 3-6 to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

Southwest Middle School principal Richard Denney says, “We are excited to have received the STEM Grant.  This grant has provides instructional kits and professional development to meet the learning needs of our students. The materials and professional development will allow us to more effectively reach the Arkansas Science standards in a way that will provide opportunities to engage students in project-based learning and enable the students to be problem solvers deeply invested in real world solutions.” 

 The purpose of the funding is explained in Act 529 of 2001:

“The design use contribution of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) shall be deposited in the Committed to Education Fund to be used by the Arkansas Committed to Education Foundation for the purpose of establishing a program for elementary age children to recognize and reward academic and character achievement through technology-based incentives.”

The public has the option to purchase education license plates for an additional fee of which $25 per license plate is sent to the Arkansas Committed to Education Foundation (ACTE).  ACTE established a program to distribute the funds by partnering with the Arkansas STEM Coalition.  The Arkansas STEM Coalition developed a continuing procedure to distribute the funds through twelve STEM Centers located on twelve university and college campuses in the state.  Each STEM Center identifies two elementary schools in need of science equipment or mathematics manipulatives and related professional development for teachers in grades 3 through 6.  Each school receives approximately $3,000 worth of science and mathematics equipment based on the science and mathematics content needs of the students and the teachers.  The equipment is used by students as a science or mathematics laboratory with hands-on learning situations and problems to develop understanding of mathematics concepts and science concepts in life, earth and physical science.  The science specialists employed by the university STEM Centers provide the professional development necessary to increase the teachers’ content and instructional skills in science. The professional development is provided at the school site and in the student classrooms with the teacher teaming with the content specialists to learn how to use the equipment and how to deliver inquiry-based lessons. 

The current competition design for the STEM equipment funding began in 2012. Since then five rounds of funding totaling $437,575 have provided 130 Arkansas schools in 109 school districts with science equipment which helped 27,380 grades 3 through 6 students with a better understanding of science and mathematics concepts and 849 teachers with professional development.

For more information, contact Ben Carrigan, Science Instruction Specialist, bwcarrigan@harding.edu email.