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S. Portland Middle Schools Emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering & Math

$225,000 Grant Supports Classroom STEM-Learning, STEM Coordinator Position

Jun 20, 2011

June 20, 2011 - The South Portland School District has received a $225,000 grant from the National Semiconductor Foundation in support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-focused learning in middle school. This initiative will serve 720 students and more than 50 instructors at Mahoney and Memorial Middle Schools.

In addition to new curricula and teacher development, the grant provides partial funding for a STEM coordinator. The coordinator will work with teachers, specialists and information literacy integrators to create and implement STEM project-based learning opportunities for grades six through eight, helping students integrate their understanding of the sciences- and math-related content.

"This provides a national model for the ways integrated STEM projects can serve as a centerpiece for a middle school’s science inquiry work," said Superintendant Suzanne Godin. "It will also demonstrate how 'citizen science' - science that serves real purposes in the community - can engage and inspire students and at the same time deepen their understanding of core scientific ideas."

Through a focused curriculum, the South Portland School District hopes to inspire and nurture young minds in the sciences and math by taking complex subject matter and providing hands-on, practical instruction that engages students.

A STEM project will serve as the "main course" for learning at each of the middle school grade levels during an intensive three-week period each year. At that time, there will also be an assessment and demonstration of how students’ learning and interest in STEM fields is impacted by the project-based learning opportunities. 

The district will also partner with the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA), which will provide professional development specialists to work with the group. MMSA’s role in this project is crucial. They are not only a leader in STEM education statewide, but are nationally known for the creation and implementation of Curriculum Topic Study, a process by which teachers align emerging curriculum with research on how students learn, as well as with district, state and national standards.

The South Portland School District expects to see an increased interest in science, technology, engineering, and math among middle school students, translating to such interest in high school and beyond.

The National Semiconductor Foundation grant is a part of a larger $1.2 million worldwide Power of Education initiative that invests in programs that not only increases teacher’s content knowledge in science and math, but also focuses on inquiry-based methods, hands-on experience as well as the connection of literacy in teaching science and math.

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is a leader in power management technology. Known for its easy-to-use analog integrated circuits and world-class supply chain, National’s high-performance analog products enable its customers’ systems to be more energy efficient. Headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., National reported sales of $1.52 billion for fiscal 2011. Additional information is available at http://www.national.com/.

National Semiconductor Foundation is a corporate-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.