Public school STEM programs winning lottery

LISBON – Just under $1 million awarded to Columbiana County school districts for STEM programs is coming from the Ohio lottery, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) said.

“I know it is difficult for some of these public schools to get these dollars. I commend Columbiana (County) for all the work that they did,” he said, referring to the consortium available through the county’s Educational Service Center that eight of the 11 public school districts took advantage of.

Crestview and Lisbon schools superintendents said the consortium gave them better leverage for receiving the funds.

“The STEM is something that we have been looking at for a few years now but just never had secured the funding to bring the curriculum to the district and now with the grant coming through the ESC we have been afforded that opportunity so we are pretty excited,” Lisbon Superintendent Joseph Siefke said.

Schiavoni said districts go through a rigorous application process in order to be eligible for the Straight A funding geared toward improving STEM Education.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

“You have to be very creative, you have to be very timely with your filing, and obviously be better than the school district next to you, or the county next to you, so it does create a lot of competition,” he said.

Schiavoni’s office issued a press release announcing the funding, explaining this round of Straight A funding will improve STEM education through Project Inspire.

The project will expand STEM programming to 7,018 K-8 students in the eight districts, including the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, the release stated.

A total of $972,250 was awarded, with each of the eight districts receiving $98,790 while the county ESC received $157,380 and the county JVSD received $126,340.

Until now STEM programs were only geared toward high school students.

The goal of STEM education is to get students prepared for the workforce prior to attending college, Schiavoni said.

“The money the consortium got through the Straight A grant is going to allow for some curriculum,” Siefke said. “We are really excited about implementing it at K through 12. We have three teachers who started professional development today, one at the elementary, one from the junior high and one from the high school. We are pretty excited about bringing that curriculum to Lisbon.”

He and Crestview Superintendent John Dilling said consortium members will now have access to a program called INVENTORCloud that allows students to program machines like 3D printers, CNC mills or CNC lays through computers to an offsite location in Youngstown.

“They are able to use the technology that we have provided them with their computers to program machinery. The whole idea is it gives students an opportunity to apply their knowledge of math and science to real world problems. If they see how to apply their math and science is becomes easier for them to understand the importance,” Dilling said.

He added the district is working with the ESC to have the offsite location changed in the future.

ESC Superintendent Anna Marie Vaughn could not be reached for comment due to being out of the office.

“This is a big deal for public schools in Columbiana (County),” Schiavoni said. “By incorporating STEM education at an early age, our students will be prepared for the challenges and changes they will face in their future careers.”

A press release issued by State Rep. Nick Barborak (D-Lisbon) said county schools will work with regional colleges, including Youngstown State, Kent State and Eastern Community College to create a project-based, hands-on STEM Curriculum that emphasizes important skills such as creativity and problem solving that reflects the needs of the modern world.

“Through Project Inspire, our kids will have the opportunity to equip themselves with lifelong skills and a global understanding that will be beneficial to both the students and the community,” he said.