Moab students learning about robotics. [Photo by Stephanie Dahlstrom]

A mobile DJ cart, digital cameras, and long-boards are some of the items Moab middle school students will learn to design and build thanks to a Utah Department of Workforce Services grant aimed at increasing interest in science and math.

The BEACON Afterschool Program, Grand County School District and Utah State University-Moab were each awarded a Workforce Services grant to develop educational programming geared toward employment pathways in career and technical education, and science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. The three entities collaborated while preparing their individual grant proposals to ensure multi-year student involvement in CTE and STEM activities and programs.

“This is such a huge boost to our middle-school students,” BEACON Afterschool Program director Stephanie Dahlstrom said. “It’s exciting. We’ll be able to put math and science concepts into fun, dynamic projects. It’s learning in a fun way.”

The $45,931 STEMLink Afterschool grant will allow the BEACON program to add a robotics team, purchase state-of-the-art equipment for the afterschool club and introduce students to STEM-related careers through field trips, Dahlstrom said.

Additionally, middle school students will team up with high school students in the Science Olympiad competition by forming their first-ever team, Dahlstrom said.

Grand County High School was awarded a $49,000 STEM grant to create a new college and career pre-engineering pathway. Three new classes will be offered next year: pre-engineering technology, engineering design, and robotics and automation.

“These three classes comprise the pre-engineering pathway set up by the U.S. Department of Education,” said Jim Stocks, GCHS director of career and technical education.

The district also plans to develop STEM-related internships working with middle school students, as well as implement more STEM activities in existing math and science classes, Stocks said.

“It is exciting to be able to offer a continuum of STEM-related opportunities from middle school through post-secondary education,” Stocks said. “I believe our community will see great benefits from this collaboration.”

USU-Moab was awarded $101,000 to hire a new CTE coordinator to develop and implement three new CTE/STEM programs at the college. Those programs include information technology and web development, accounting and auditing, and construction management. Students will have the opportunity to earn certificates of completion, or associate degrees in these one- and two-year programs.

“We have not been able to offer these shorter-term, work-force development-type programs,” USU-Moab Dean Steve Hawks said. “This grant will let us do that. The most exciting thing about our grant is that it builds on the other two grants in the community. It will help kids prepare for careers from middle school through high school and college.”

The collaboration shown between the university, Grand County School District, and BEACON to create a continuum of STEM-related opportunities was a key factor in granting full funding for each of the three proposals, according to a news release. The BEACON Afterschool Program will launch CTE and STEM programs at the middle school, followed by new CTE/STEM classes at the high school, which will provide a strong foundation for certification and associate degree programs at USU-Moab.

“The program targets local employment needs in the Moab area,” Hawks said. “We will meet the economic needs in the community and so we’re excited to offer these programs.”

This is such a huge boost to our middle-school students. It’s exciting. We’ll be able to put math and science concepts into fun, dynamic projects. It’s learning in a fun way.

Grants aim to increase interest in science and math