Pictured above – Algood Middle School toolshed built by students. 

Middle School STEM Start-Up & Expansion Grant

Putnam County – The Tennessee Department of Education announced over $800,000 in grant funding has been awarded to 34 districts for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, middle school career and technical education (CTE) and high school school-based enterprise projects.  Middle School  STEM startup & Expansion Grants have been awarded to 52 schools including Algood Middle (ATMS) and Avery Trace Middle School. Algood Middle School (AMS) received $4,500 and Avery Trace received $10,000 in grant funds to expand career exploration opportunities through STEM. 

Avery Trace Middle School will be implementing supplies and materials for their middle school STEM classes.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to put more technology and robotics into the hands of our middle school students. Computer Science is an important field for all students to better understand and be able to implement hands-on, real-world skills utilizing communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking,” said Dr. Meghan England, STEM teacher at ATMS

STEM teacher Wren Goedken at AMS will also be implementing supplies and materials for her middle school STEM classes as it relates to science and agriculture. 

“We’re so very happy to have received the STEM CTE grant funds,” said Goedken. “It enabled us to afford a big-ticket item that we could not have gotten any other way.  We bought pressure-treated lumber and built our own toolshed.  It was a great learning experience; planning, training for tool safety, building, designing murals/images and painting our shed.  We used the scraps to build a cool directional signpost to guide visitors to all the different green spaces here at school. We also used some scraps to build seven birdhouses that will soon be completed. 

“The money also paid for some new tools to put in the toolshed. We couldn’t be happier with the results, we had so much fun and added beauty and functionality to our garden with this project!  Thank you from all of us at AMS,” said Goedken. 

STEM is a vital partner in career exploration in middle school. The 21st-century job market is increasingly dependent on STEM skills, and exposing students to STEM activities can provide them with a solid foundation for future career success, according to the Putnam County School System. Middle school students can benefit from STEM activities and programs that allow them to explore and develop their interests in these fields. For instance, STEM activities such as robotics, coding, and science experiments can help students learn more about different careers related to these fields to make informed decisions about their future careers.

“Tennessee continues to provide more pathways to help students transition from middle to high school and these grants help ensure students have increased access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities, STEM, and career technical education,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “We are thrilled that we can make these opportunities happen over the last two years and help students be successful during high school and into their postsecondary and workforce careers.” 

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