2021 Grant Recipients

MINNDEPENDENT awarded STEM Grants totaling more than $56,000 to 17 MINNDEPENDENT member schools for projects to be implemented during the 2021-22 school year. Following is a list of the Innovation, Sustainability and Starter Grant awardees and their projects.

STEM Innovation Grants

Academy of Holy Angels
Academy of Whole Learning
Annunciation School
Carondelet Catholic School
Central Minnesota Christian School
Hill Murray School
Nativity of Our Lord School
New Life Academy
New Ulm Area Catholic Schools
St. Odilia School
St. Pascal Regional Catholic School
Totino-Grace High School

STEM Sustainability Grants

Loyola Catholic School
Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School
St. Michael Catholic School (St. Michael, MN)
Trinity Lutheran School (Waconia, MN)

STEM Starter Grants
St. John the Baptist Catholic School (Vermillion, MN)

STEM Innovation Grants

Academy of Holy Angels, Richfield
Teaching Cell Culturing in a High School Science Setting (Grades 11-12)
We are seeking funding to purchase a CO2 incubator and ultra-low temperature freezer for use in our anatomy and engineering & technology in science (ETiS) courses. These items will provide students with the opportunity to participate in cell culturing in a laboratory. Cell culturing is a widely used laboratory technique that enables cells to be cultured, studied, and manipulated under controlled conditions outside of the body. Cell culture is practiced in almost every biomedical laboratory throughout the world, but it is rare in a high school setting. This equipment will be used to store mouse T cell lines and allow cells to reproduce in an ideal environment. This will allow us to culture our own cells for use in different laboratory experiments.

Academy of Whole Learning, Minnetonka
Stepping Stones to the Capstone (Grades 9-12)
At Academy of Whole Learning, we regularly move through the visual and arrive at the abstract as our neurodiverse students’ abilities allow. To establish integrative practice between our math curriculum and Next Generation Science Standards we must first acquire the materials necessary to scaffold and model the real-world applications of concepts, enabling our students to generalize their learning. Our curricular revision will include unit culminating projects with real-world applications that connect to a capstone project, a kitchen garden at our new campus. Foremost among the resources are the manipulatives and software that will enable our staff to guide the stepping-stone projects from idea through execution. Necessary manipulatives would include play money, blocks, craft sticks and geometric solids. We also need budgeting software to enable our students to determine costs for their real-world execution of the project(s). This cross-cutting curriculum will culminate in the biennial planning and execution of a STEM project that will benefit the school, adding an element of service learning to the abstract class lessons.

Annunciation Catholic School, Minneapolis
STEM and Robotics (Grades 6 – 8)
To increase STEM education at Annunciation, apply new science standards, and to continue the transdisciplinary learning currently used in K-5 to our middle school, we are proposing adding the LEGO® Education SPIKE™ Prime Set to our 6th grade curriculum through a weekly STEM class. “Combining colorful LEGO building elements, easy-to-use hardware, and an intuitive drag-and-drop coding language based on Scratch, SPIKE Prime continuously engages students through playful learning activities to think critically and solve complex problems, regardless of their learning level.” In looking at the new Minnesota Science standards, we notice a new emphasis on STEM activities and 3D activities and assessments. We believe adding a robotics and programming element to our curriculum will help connect subject areas and provide engaging hands-on learning and application of knowledge. We plan to start with 6th grade with hopes to expand this programming to our 7th and 8th grade and to eventually create an after-school club for our middle school students. We anticipate the excitement for STEM will grow and our middle school students can be leaders within our K-8 setting. We see this as one step to a larger goal of STEM education for all of our students.

Carondelet Catholic School, Minneapolis
Makerspace (Grades 3-5)
In 2018, Carondelet Catholic School developed a Makerspace program to address STEAM standards for our PreK-2 students. Our faculty saw the need for this program to be expanded to our Upper Campus, which houses grades 3-8, based on the need for a space where students can work in groups and have real life hands-on experiences using the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We will provide a space for students to go and be able to explore how things they create can change the world around them. Our goal is to provide a space for teachers and students to use 21st century skills as they integrate science, mathematics and engineering standards into their teaching and learning following NGSS. We will continue to grow this program through Middle School in the coming years to help prepare all students for High School STEM and the real-world applications within the standards.

Central Minnesota Christian School, Prinsburg
Coding, Robotics and Electronics (Grades 4-8)
Our goal is to provide upper elementary and middle school students with the opportunity to participate on a robotics team, using materials to creatively solve problems and challenges. Our first step to realizing this goal is to introduce STEM projects and challenges to our students and faculty using LEGO Robotics sets and a Makey Makey classroom set. These sets will be used in grades 4-8 to introduce coding, robotics and electronic skills while reinforcing skills in problem solving, communication, and collaboration. In support of this work, CMCS is building a broader partnership with Power Systems Engineering (PSE) of Prinsburg, MN and NovaTech Engineering of Willmar, MN, to introduce our scholars to the possibilities of STEM skills. In addition to working directly with the robotics club, PSE and NovaTech will provide coaching to our staff and mentor scholars in careers related to engineering. With our grant dollars, we intend to purchase Lego Robotics and Makey Makey sets and provide a stipend for professional development for teachers to plan and develop STEM projects using the sets.

Hill-Murray School, St. Paul
Community Service Robots (Grades 9-12)

Nine years ago, our school started a FIRST robotics team. This was the start of an avalanche of STEM developments at our school. Students asked for more and we responded. We now offer multiple engineering and computer science classes in grades 6-12 and have five different robotics teams, three competitive coding teams, a drone racing team, and a cybersecurity team. While the PioNerds have enjoyed a fair amount of success, it has become clear that something is missing. Whatever these students accomplish only has a direct impact on the lives of the students involved. Indirectly, their work will benefit others later, but why not now? Our proposal is to create a club where students will create robotic solutions to real world problems. Our club will give students the opportunity to serve the community through robotics. Groups of students will identify a problem, then design, build, code, test and refine a robot to help. An example of a project would be a robot that autonomously sanitizes work surfaces in our school. Our goal is to have students apply the learning from the classroom and teams to solutions that matter and make an immediate impact in our community.

Nativity of Our Lord School, St. Paul
NGSS and Engineering in Middle School Science (Grades 4-8)

This summer, our science teachers will engage in professional development surrounding the NGSS standards and how to more effectively engage students in 21st century learning skills including evidence-based reasoning, creative problem solving, communicating ideas, and computational thinking. After engaging in PD, we will have the opportunity to meet as a team of science educators to modify, improve, and further develop our school-wide science curriculum; ultimately developing a more robust experience for our students. The grant will allow us to provide teachers with a small stipend for the summer work they are doing, and some funding to implement more engineering opportunities in their science classroom. While K-3 students have a separate STEAM class, 4th-8th schedules have not been modified to allow this time. As a school community, we want to continue to offer a rich STEM opportunity for students within their science classes. STEM in science class will include authentic ways to engage in an engineering design process (particularly around the topics of environmental science and geology) as well as programming and robotics. These additions to our curriculum will help to move from teaching the scientific method to engaging in evidence-based reasoning, the cross-cutting concepts, and NGSS engineering standards.

New Life Academy, Woodbury
Aerial Imaging with Drones: Boosting Technology and Arts in STEAM (Grade 6-12)

In a multi-disciplinary approach, we would like to implement drones in our Technology, Engineering, and Digital Media elective courses, summer camps and after school clubs in grades 6-12. The purpose of this project is to engage students in STEAM activities that foster real-world problem-solving and awareness of high-tech careers, specifically in aviation and digital photography. In Technology classes, students will build, assemble, program, and simulate drones to manually and autonomously fly around the gym and outdoors. In Engineering classes, students will design CAD models and 3D print drone parts. Students will create and print aerial maps, build obstacle courses, collect altitude data, and process aerial images taken with the drones. Student-lead teams will brainstorm strategies to take photographs of the schoolyard landscape during flight and descent. The architectural blueprints of the ground below and photographs will be enhanced by photoshop in Digital Media courses, printed on wide-format printers and displayed on walls for further analysis, troubleshooting and communication. Other challenges include disaster management, aerial inspections of campus facilities and completing tiered obstacle course competitions. In addition, students will be engaged in conversation about privacy, private property rights and the legislation needed to protect the rights of every individual. The skills learned through this project will provide a foundation for students who decide to pursue drone pilot certification in the future, aligned with the NLA’s goal of facilitating career preparedness.

New Ulm Area Catholic Schools
Augmented Reality Sandbox (Grade 3-12)

The project proposal is to build two Augmented Reality Sandboxes, one each for the elementary and the high school. The boxes will be built on portable carts, so that it would be possible for an instructor to use both, thereby increasing the number of students who can interact with the boxes. The goal is to make these boxes accessible to all grade levels, primarily in the earth and environmental science curriculum, but because these boxes illustrate landforms and topography, they could also be utilized in social studies classes. The overall goal is to allow students to directly observe water flow, erosion, meteorological processes, weathering, and topography interactively by utilizing lights, electronic illustrations, and 3D imagery to depict landform changes.

St. Odilia School, Shoreview
Robotics Initiative (Grades 1-5)

This robotics initiative will serve grades K-5 (approximately 350 children) at St. Odilia School. In STEM class, students will be introduced to Sphero Mini robots in the younger grade levels (K-2) where they will build skills in problem solving/critical thinking, gain and practice their collaboration skills, and begin to understand basic coding concepts. As the students grow in their coding skills, they will be introduced to the Sphero Spark robots in grades 3-5. Working collaboratively with a peer, they will be able to use their growing coding skills to program the Spark robots, and further their critical thinking and problem-solving skills through various activities with the robots.

St. Pascal Regional Catholic School, St. Paul
Foss Next Generation Grant (Grades K-6)

This grant will benefit students in K-6. Our goal is to build up the science program so that it is standard based and also highly interesting and hands-on. The FOSS program is research based as well as aligned with the new MN standards. It is inquiry based and revolves around cooperative learning. The kits are engaging, fun, and highly educational.

Totino-Grace High School, Fridley
Spectrophotometer (Grades 10-12)

Our Innovati