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East Idaho educators get over $153,000 in grants

The Idaho STEM Action Center has awarded 170 grants worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars to schools, districts, libraries, out-of-school programs and workforce-development training centers statewide to advance science, technology, engineering and math education.

A total of $725,843.41 was awarded to grant programs Camp Grants, Computer Science Device Grants and PK12 Innovative STEM Project Grants.

Eastern Idaho organizations landed 35 grants worth $153,935.61 including seven grants to Idaho Falls groups totaling $46,205.32.

“STEM education is a central focus of my K-through-Career approach to preparing Idaho students for life beyond high school,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “Idaho educators and employers are working together closer than ever to ensure students are ready for the career opportunities of today and tomorrow. These grants help provide the tools they need to succeed.”

Camp Grants will fund afterschool and summer STEM camps to boost knowledge in computer science and STEM concepts. The STEM Action Center received 51 applications representing $440,930.68 in requests and funded 18 submissions worth $154,302.68. A majority of the recipients are using a significant portion of the funds to support scholarships for populations underrepresented in STEM fields to attend the camps. Applicants were allowed to request up to $10,000 each.

Computer Science Device Grants will fund hardware devices primarily used for coding, such as tablets and laptop, desktop, and Raspberry Pi computers, the latter of which are tiny, affordable devices used primarily to teach basic computer science in schools. Students will use these devices to learn coding, software-development tools, and such languages as Java, C++, Python, and Scratch. The STEM Action Center received 84 applications representing $685,756.59 in requests and funded 39 submissions worth $316,458.93. Applicants were allowed to request up to $10,000 each.

PK12 Innovative STEM Project Grants will fund creative science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer-science programs that are hands-on or project-based. The STEM Action Center received 124 applications representing $278,838.48 and funded 113 submissions worth $255,081.80. Applicants were allowed to request up to $2,500 each.

STEM Action Center Executive Director Angela Hemingway said demand for the grants far surpassed available funds. “Total requests for these three grant programs exceeded $1.4 million,” she said. “We had to decline 89 requests — one-third of applicants — who were asking for nearly $670,000, which unfortunately means we’re still unable to meet all the needs of Idaho’s STEM community.”

Hemingway said Idaho’s tech sector is the second fastest-growing in the nation at 6.3 percent, and 80 percent of all jobs will require technology skills within the next 20 years.

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