2014 STEM Grants

Innovation Grants

Innovation Grants are awarded for projects that clearly employ authentic learning strategies and integrate STEM academic subjects (science and math) with appropriate technology within an engineering or scientific discovery framework; use assessments that require students to analyze the results of their learning experience and communicate their analysis to others; connect classroom learning to STEM resources and experiences outside school; and lay a foundation for systemic change in the STEM program at the recipient school, or enhance and expand an existing STEM program.

Academy of Holy Angels


Catapults Away

Our project is to integrate STEM learning through catapult design into a kindergarten through sixth grade curriculum. The project will also give the students the opportunity to work with construction materials and the design, build, and test process in the classroom. Local engineers will come to talk about the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math as related to catapults and our everyday life.
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Bethlehem Academy


Introduction to Engineering Course

Students in this course will be introduced to the design process through mechanical engineering, basic software coding, and electrical engineering. Students will also explore career opportunities in the engineering field. The design process will be taught through the first unit of mechanical engineering using physics and math concepts to build an object. After prototype testing is completed, students will construct their object using our newly acquired 3D Printer. The second unit will be an introduction to coding using robots that students can program. Snapping the pieces of a robot together takes some skill, but the real learning will take place when students put their logic to the test in programming commands for the robot. Electrical engineer majors are a scarcity right now, so our third unit will hopefully “spark” some interest among our students. In this unit, students will review basic circuit design using circuit kits. Students will then put their skills to the test in designing a multi-function LED flashlight. In a final project students will work in small groups to create something using knowledge and skills learned in two of the three units in the course.

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Calvin Christian School


Aerospace Engineering Exploration

Calvin Christian Middle School’s science, math, and technology teachers will be creating an integrated project-based inquiry Aerospace Engineering Unit.  This unit will answer the essential question, “How do engineers use science, math, and technology to design effective parachutes?”  Topics include: principles of flight and motion, the history and importance of aerospace engineering to society, spacecraft design, data collection and interpretation, and collaboration with peers and professionals.  The students’ capstone project is a middle-school-student-led and designed STEM night for elementary students in the Calvin community.  Middle school students will share their acquired knowledge with younger students in an inquiry-based, hands-on activity night at our school.  Our goal is that this will become an annual event.

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Cotter Schools


Robot Engineering

This project will engage students in grades 4 through 8 in an authentic, integrated study of robotics using LEGO Mindstorms. The project will bring the topic of robotic engineering to a truly understandable level, in which students will gain a deeper understanding of robotics, and the role they play in society, our local community, and ultimately as a possible career choice. Students will actively discover the forms of robotics, why robotics are important, and how these forms of robotics can be used today and altered in the future.  They will be introduced to different modes of robotics with a wide range of variables, debate on the proper uses of robotics using investigative reporting, mathematics, technology and writing to justify and defend their views.  Students will create robots and design various programs to manipulate their robot for multiple uses and utilize these models to explain how it can be implemented in full scale models.

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Gethsemane Lutheran School


Beyond the Piece of Paper

This project will add a third unit to our three-year middle school STEM rotation: 3D Printing. The 3D Printing Unit ties into the two previous MINNDEPENDENT STEM grant projects, Architectural Design and Bridge Design, and brings the most current technology to our students. This grant takes them to a level that matches the current technology. The previous two grant projects allowed us to work with the Fab Lab at Century College where we realized the incredible possibilities of 3-D printing. Unfortunately, we were only able to have a select few of the student designs printed. Additionally limiting, the students were not able to witness the 3-D printers in-action. The new grant initiative would allow all students access to 3-D printing opportunities.

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Holy Spirit School

St. Paul

Feeding the Future

Our project is to create sustainable educational gardens to be used by students ranging from kindergarten through grade eight.  These gardens will provide students with an active experience learning where their food originates from, how important plants are to their health and the essential component plants play in our environment. We will create two gardens. In one we will grow food which the Minnesota Department of Health has granted us permission to use in our lunch program, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green beans and other foods that could be served to students. Students will choose the foods to grow, plant the seeds, care for the plants in the greenhouse, transplant them into raised beds and then harvest the food. Students will also learn about composting and will use the compost to fertilize the plants. The second garden will focus on flowers and plants that will attract such things as butterflies, specifically Painted Lady Butterflies. Students will conduct research to determine what plants are necessary in the garden as well as to care for and maintain it. Several grades will use butterflies as part of the science curriculum and this would provide students with the opportunity to experience them in their natural habitat.

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Lourdes High School


Investigating the Use of Renewable Energy Technologies

The impetus for investigating the use of renewable energy technologies for Rochester Catholic Schools elementary sites is environmental stewardship and reducing energy costs across our system.  Our students will analyze data, calculate rates, design a system and present their findings back to our community. The students will also examine the peak load rate in Rochester vs. State and National rates for comparison and determine the feasibility of each school. They will have the help of mentors from Rochester Public Utilities and Solar Connection, Inc. These community partners will be available to provide resources, data, skills, technical assistance and design concepts to students and teachers throughout the project.

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St. Anastasia School


Vegetable Gardening

The third grade has developed a unit involving two hoop greenhouses, raised garden beds, and hay bale gardening with the support of a $500 grant we received in 2011-2012 from Meeker County Light and Power Association. The students plant a variety of vegetables in greenhouses and in the hay bales outside their classroom windows. They take care of the plants throughout their life cycle and eventually harvest them. Throughout the growing season, they conduct a number of experiments, measure the results, and record the outcomes. This MINNDEPENDENT STEM Grant will enable the teachers to enhance this project by consulting with a master gardener, updating and connecting the greenhouses, and obtaining additional materials (plastic for the green house, fresh hay bales, seeds, gardening tools, etc.). The goal is to refine the lesson plans and experiments to meet the Minnesota math and science standards.

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St. Croix Catholic School


Let There Be Light!

Is it feasible for the Bwambo Health Center to eliminate its reliance on the Tanzanian government-run electrical grid? Can the center create enough electricity from solar energy to meet the needs of the center?  Can the center do this within its given budget? St. Croix Catholic School will partner with Mission Doctors Association’s Bwambo Health Center in Tanzania to determine if it’s feasible to replace the government-run electrical grid with locally based solar-powered electricity.

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St. Croix Lutheran School

West St. Paul

The Sound of Science

AP Physics students will conduct a sound design study to assess the acoustics and sound design of our current music facilities to measure the current design’s impact on students and instructors. Students will share these findings with students in music classes and the findings will also inform the design of the new fine arts center. AP Chemistry students will conduct a similar study of air temperature throughout the school, the results of which will be used in the design of new facilities.

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St. Croix Montessori School


From Greenhouse to Garden to Table

Elementary students will build a greenhouse in the outdoor environment adjacent to their classroom. Adding a greenhouse will allow the students to bring their work in the classroom full circle. Currently, the students have organized composting in their own classroom and extended composting to the Primary classrooms as well as the greater SCMS community. The greenhouse and an additional composting container will allow the students to use the composted material to grow plants for the garden, as well as maintain a variety of plants to use for botany lessons and experiments. In the past, students have attempted to start seedlings in the classroom to use for our school garden boxes and gift them to our school families, but they have not had the proper environment to truly grow year round. The greenhouse will allow them to witness the full cycle of seed, to fruit, to dirt and around again. Furthermore, the greenhouse will allow the children to truly follow their interests, explore a variety of plant types and shapes, and encourage the students’ passion for plants.

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St. James School


What’s in My Water?

This unit will begin by examining our local watershed. We will investigate the extent of our watershed and which local bodies of water are involved. We will then research which organisms exist in our water and the impact of pollution on local aquatic life. Students will collect samples and work towards understanding the food web, ecosystems, niches, and habitats. We will tie what we have learned about aquatic organisms back to our watershed and how important it is to care for it. Students will learn how to fish, how to make lures, and after speaking with local spear fishermen from Fond du Lac Reservation, students will engineer decoys that are esse