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West Jordan Journal

Generous Boeing Grant Helps Fund Science Education

Mar 10, 2016 11:21AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Rachel Hall | [email protected]

West Jordan - Students in Jordan School District will have the opportunity for more hands-on learning and problem solving in the classroom thanks in part to a generous grant donated by Boeing in the amount of $75,000.

“It was a $75,000 check, but it was split between five districts,” science and STEM specialist Barbara Gentry said.

Boeing provided a $75,000 grant in support of the Jordan School District, Granite School District, Davis School District and Weber School District for a collaborative project – Northern Utah STEM (NUSTEM).

 The NUSTEM Consortium intends to implement a multi-agency Professional Learning Community (PLC), develop a cohort of Lead Teachers, provide and implement STEM-based and industry-influenced professional development for K-12 grade teachers using the Professional Learning Community model, and develop STEM-based-industry-influenced resources and curricula.

“We need to teach teachers how to teach a new core and how to go over it,” Phil Johnson, an eighth-grade science teacher at West Hills Middle School, said.

The goals of this grant are to improve STEM skills in K-12 classrooms for teachers and students, create STEM-based assessments and provide supplies for STEM integration in K-12 classrooms. STEM-based assessments will align STEM activities with content standards, according to Boeing’s spokeswoman Lisa Dunbar.

 Boeing also partners with the district for student outreach throughout the year, including STEM presentations done by Boeing employees, student tours and special projects.

“Boeing is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the school districts as part of the company’s focus on supporting STEM education and creating a competitive workforce and stronger communities,” Boeing Utah Community Investor Tara Steele said.

The funding will cover the costs of professional development and materials needed for teachers to adjust to the new SEEd core, which is a more inquiry-based learning model.

“It’s going to give us the opportunity to teach kids how to solve a problem rather than just present material for them. For Boeing, that gives them better workers,” Johnson said. “We are switching to where kids can get more involved in science.”

Gentry noted that the district has been successful in obtaining grant money, though the task is not an easy one to accomplish. She credits the district’s grant writer, Rachel Langshall, for the hard work she puts into obtaining grant funding. The STEM team has managed to bring in a total of $2,325,925 in funding, though some of it will be dispersed to the district over multiple years.

“We are trying to change the way science is taught. We couldn’t do it without the grants,” Gentry said.

Benefits of the Boeing grant, as well as other grant funding, include after-school and summer programs that offer enrichment opportunities, including robotics competitions and computer programming courses. Part of the money also goes to cover the cost of substitutes, so teachers can attend professional development and return with fresh ideas to make learning more engaging for students in the classroom.

“We’ve been able to offer some really fun stuff,” Gentry said.