GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Arizona is blessed with a number of educators who inspire students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and the Phoenix Suns are teaming up to help these teachers bring innovative hands-on STEM learning to 6,000-plus students through financial grants totaling $50,000.
The grants were recently awarded to 25 elementary and high school teachers across Arizona, including Grand Canyon, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Yuma, Prescott Valley and Casa Grande. These grants will be used by teachers and staff to provide a wide range of STEM-related activities, including robotics, gardening, water harvesting, computer coding and even designing and building classroom furniture. The intent of the grants is to spark the next generation of STEM professionals.
“These grants are relatively small, but they can make a big difference to a teacher with an innovative idea on how to get students interested in math and science. This year’s applications were especially creative,” said John Hatfield, APS vice president of Communications and Community Affairs. “These programs are so important because many of the best jobs in Arizona’s economic future will require technical skills.”
Grand Canyon School librarian Amanda Heller was one of 25 educators from around the state that received a STEM grant to further science, technology, engineering and math education at the school.
Heller will use the funds in the school library to create a STEM — centered Makerspace Lab, which will offer a supervised space for small groups of kindergarten through fifth-grade students to work together to problem-solve and create solutions to modern issues like building and racing, coding and circuits, gardening and designing solar cities.
For the past 12 years, APS and the Phoenix Suns have partnered to promote STEM education in Arizona schools by annually awarding $50,000 in mini-grants for hands-on projects focused on STEM subjects. The grants were available to all kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers in public and charter schools in APS service territories.
The funds support inventive, student-based projects aimed at sparking students’ curiosity and getting them excited about STEM subjects.
“This STEM mini-grant will allow our students to combine critical thinking and creativity,” said Jonathan Perrone, a STEM mini-grant recipient and STEAM instructor at Mountain Sky Middle School. “Our particular grant will allow our students to design new desks and tables for our STEAM Lab. Students will use computer-aided design software to model their prototypes, then they will be able to build desks and tables with furniture pipe and wooden surfaces.”