Duke Energy STEM Lab Grant
Duke Energy STEM Lab Grant
Posted on 06/19/2017
Buncombe County Schools received exciting news this summer about the future of local STEM education efforts. The Duke Energy Foundation is providing a generous $50,000 grant to the school system in support of STEM lab expansion at the elementary school level. The grant will allow the conversion of computer lab spaces into engaging STEM learning environments for elementary students.

The BCS STEM Lab pilot was very successful this past year with six elementary schools starting in November and two more schools added this spring. Aided by the Duke Energy grant, BCS plans to create labs at the remaining elementary schools in the next school year.

The key benefits of the labs are that students are learning to work collaboratively to engage in a process that helps them to solve a problem. In this process students ask questions about the problem, define the criteria and constraints, brainstorm ideas, plan out their solution, build and/or design, and then test and improve their design. The teachers and STEM lab assistants help facilitate the challenges and guide students through the process, but the challenges are done completely by the students.

"Buncombe County Schools is very excited to work with Duke Energy on implementing the STEM labs in all of our elementary schools," said BCS STEM coach Carla Billups. "Through the pilot schools, we found the students highly engaged and excited to be able to apply problems solving skills and be creative in their designs. The STEM labs help provide a bridge to the STEM programs that are occurring in our intermediate, middle and high schools and allow students to engage in word force skills very early in their educational career."

According to the Duke Energy Foundation, the organization "provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The foundation provides more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The foundation’s education focus spans kindergarten to career, particularly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. It also supports the environment and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture."

Read Duke Energy's press release here.

BCS is grateful for the Duke Energy Foundation's commitment to workforce development and public education in Western North Carolina. Stay tuned to BuncombeSchools.org for ongoing updates on this important project.
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