Franklin College will use a $40,000 grant to train and support education students and teachers at Franklin Community Schools who are teaching science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, to elementary students.
This was the first time Franklin College had applied for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund, said Cindy Prather, teacher licensing adviser and consultant to the college’s education department.
“This is a new opportunity for Franklin College,” Prather said. “We’re using materials we’re allowed to purchase to teach our students the skills they will take with them into the Franklin Community Schools classrooms. Our students, with the Franklin community school teachers, will work together to utilize the materials with the elementary students. This will enable the teachers to receive certification in STEM education.”
The materials will help engage students and make STEM learning more interesting. Students can use Lego robotics kits, for example, to execute programming functions, such as directing a robotic boat, she said.
The grant will cover two years of training and STEM materials, and administrators hope to assist about 60 STEM teachers through the grant, including 30 up-and-coming teachers from Franklin College and 30 from Franklin schools. The grant will give college students classroom experience they can put on their resumes, and Franklin schools teachers will be able to use the experience to attain STEM Essential Teaching Certificates from the National Institute for STEM Education, according to a Franklin College news release.
“All classroom teachers need to participate in STEM teaching in their classrooms, because we’re educating our students for the future,” Prather said. “This is something that can be made available that we haven’t been able to make available in the past.”
Franklin College has an education technology specialist, Amanda Henry, who can assist with the training of others, she said.
Overall, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education awarded more than $9.6 million in grant money to 16 colleges and organizations involved with STEM, including Franklin College, Nextech, Teach for America, Ball State University Foundation, Marian University and Butler University, among others, according to a news release from the commission.
The grant opens doors for current and future teachers in Franklin, Prather said.
“STEM education is very important right now, and this grant gives us the ability to do hands-on learning in ways we would not be able to afford otherwise,” she said. “It allows our students and the current teachers in Franklin Community Schools to enhance their STEM teaching skills. It also provides integration of multiple skills such as communication, collaboration and creative thinking to accomplish a goal. Those skills are transferable to all areas of learning.”