The following is a news release from Purdue Fort Wayne:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Enhanced professional development for teachers who specialize in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math is the aim of a $300,000 grant announced Thursday on the campus of Purdue University Fort Wayne. Toby Thomas, president and chief operating officer of Indiana Michigan Power, presented the award to the university on behalf of the AEP Foundation.
Thomas joined leaders from Purdue Fort Wayne and students from Paul Harding Junior High School at the Steel Dynamics Keith E. Busse Mastodon Alumni Center to celebrate the occasion and to discuss how this type of curriculum is used throughout the school year.
“I&M and the AEP Foundation are strong, enthusiastic supporters of STEAM education,” Thomas said. “Teaching science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to impressionable middle and high school students is a vital link in our education system, and we are pleased to support this initiative of the Purdue Fort Wayne School of Education.”
Funding from the three-year grant will be used for a program called Project EZ: Green STEAM Tech. Its main objective is to educate teachers about “green energy” technologies and robotics through hands-on skills labs and the implementation of best practices.
During six-week summer sessions, approximately 15 middle and high school teachers per year will have access to state-of-the-art professional development opportunities led by Jeff Nowak, a professor of STEAM education in the College of Professional Studies. Project EZ will help participants become more knowledgeable and comfortable with collaborative technology tools so they may inspire thousands of students to new career options.
“The potential of this program to positively impact not only the 46 educators who will take part, but also the more than 10,000 students they will collectively teach over the following three years, is exciting to consider,” Nowak said. “The equipment and kits being made available will allow the participating teachers to build the requisite skills they’ll need to attain a transformational understanding of how to share this knowledge with their students in the classroom. We are fortunate to have the AEP Foundation share our desire to bolster STEAM education across northeastern Indiana.”
Project EZ will be offered to middle school teachers this summer, high school teachers in 2021, and to a combination of both in 2022. The program will also provide the opportunity for participants to earn points that may be applied to a Professional Growth Plan, which is one option for the renewal of an educator license in Indiana.
Leaders from Purdue Fort Wayne used the ceremonial check presentation, which included a robotics demonstration from seven Harding students, to stress the important role this grant and other forms of public support play in the university’s ability to offer high-quality educational opportunities for students and educators.
“Partnerships such as this highlight the return on investment that’s possible when the business sector and public higher education combine resources,” said Ruth L. Stone, vice chancellor for development, Purdue Fort Wayne. “Together, the AEP Foundation and Purdue Fort Wayne are expanding the reach of STEAM education throughout our region. Benefits will be evident for years to come as the teachers we support continue to inspire their students to reach higher with their academic pursuits.”
The AEP Foundation grant makes up nearly 70% of the total funding for Project EZ. Purdue Fort Wayne will cover the rest. In addition to course materials, grant money will also be used to purchase three pedal assist e-bikes for use by the public while on display at multiple locations throughout the region, and for the replacement of existing equipment offered through the NISTEM Education Resource Center at Purdue Fort Wayne.
Middle school STEAM teachers interested in applying for the summer 2020 session of Project EZ are invited to contact Nowak directly at email@example.com or 260-481-6960 to learn more.