Maker Space at Ravenswood School District

by Michelle Durand, Daily Journal

Eighteen San Mateo County teachers received $31,000 in innovation awards from the county fund for projects designed to teach science, technology, engineering and math skills.

The STEM funding is an annual way the Board of Supervisors acknowledged student achievement and teacher excellence by offering a chance to use innovative approaches to education. This year’s winners include projects for fourth-, fifth- or sixth-grade classrooms that range from computer coding and design to 3-D printing and gardening.

STEM skills are particularly key here in Silicon Valley where there are daily reminders of the need for vigorous preparation in math and science, said Supervisor Warren Slocum, who co-chairs the Math and Science Workgroup.

“Our STEM grants are an investment in youth and a reward to teaching professionals who have creative ideas designed to pique curiosity, fire the imagination and provide a deeper understanding of science and math,” Slocum said in an announcement of the awards.

In 2005, the board created the Math and Science Workgroup to promote and improve student achievement and teacher excellence in math and science. The group awards grounds though the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Innovation Fund which is financed through the county general fund.

The latest awards include:

• Brentwood Academy, East Palo Alto: Allison Smith, Rosa Chen and Darcy Hansen received $1,090 for a codable classroom where fifth-grade students will learn to program and build websites. Tim Jones, Luis Moreno and Edgar Ramirez received $4,837 for a tech shop to certify fourth-grade students on a 3-D printer and laser and vinyl cutters;

• Buri Buri Elementary School, South San Francisco: Chris Stone received $2,079 to design and plant a school garden;

• Green Oaks Academy, East Palo Alto: Dixie Johansen received $2,462 for nanotechnology experiences including a hands-on comparison of nanotex and regular fabric;

• Bayside STEM Academy, San Mateo: James Brunner received $2,500 to teach students programming with Scratch and Makey Makey boards;

• Spring Valley Elementary School, Millbrae: Kathy Zavaleta and Joel Wheeler received $4,957 to teach fourth- and fifth-graders about simple machines, electricity, forces and magnets;

• Kings Mountain Elementary School, Woodside: Maile Springer and Joan Mcintire received $4,527 for a San Gregorio Watershed study using sensor probes;

• Ralston Middle School, Belmont: Mia Hiles and Jacqui Savage received $4,990 for a hands-on project to capture and generate energy;

• George Washington Elementary School, Daly City: Rosanne Hannan received $988 for math and science stations to teach about organs and cell types in the body, the solar system, weather patterns and earth science; and

• Roosevelt Elementary School, Burlingame: Tim Weaver and Judge Lawrence received $3,458 to teach fourth-graders computer programs used by engineers designing structures or processes.

Last year’s 11 awards include projects about native plants on San Bruno Mountain, using 3-D printers to design airplane parts and touring AT&T Park to learn math and statistics through baseball.