Local school district receives state STEM funds

A local school district is among the latest in Missouri to receive state funding through an initiative aiming to generate interest in science and engineering among pre-college students.

Missouri University of Science and Technology reports Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a national nonprofit organization, is expanding into new school districts in 10 south-central Missouri counties, including Ozark. As a result, Bakersfield R-IV is among 17 of 41 eligible school districts receiving grant funding.

Missouri’s PLTW effort is coordinated through Missouri S&T, which is providing state-funded grants to the districts.

David Hosick, senior program director of PLTW at Missouri S&T, has been traveling the region distributing grants to the school districts.

The Missouri General Assembly approved $250,000 in state funding for the effort to expand access to PLTW in the 41 school districts known collectively as SOAR, or the Southern Alliance for Rural Development.

Third District State Sen. Mike Cunningham says, “Jobs in the 21st century will be much more complex and technical than anything we’ve seen in the past. If we are going to attract employers and keep good jobs in our area, it’s vital that we prepare our children to compete in today’s high-tech workplace. Not every student will go to college, but all young people can benefit from a foundation in the STEM fields.”

Cunningham says, “The goal is not just to expose students to high-tech gadgets, but to prepare them to become an effective member of the workforce. Students learn communications and teamwork skills, at the same time they are exposed to the latest technology.”

With the addition of these districts, PLTW now serves 656 of Missouri’s public and private school districts and is found in 80 of the 114 counties in Missouri.

PLTW is a nonprofit organization that provides hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum for students pre-kindergarten through high school through career pathways in computer science, engineering and biomedical science. Missouri S&T has been the statewide PLTW affiliate for Missouri since the national program began in 1997 and has trained thousands of teachers through the program since that time.

To receive a grant, schools districts must apply for the funding.

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