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00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f7707e000090.5 WESA's Life of Learning series focuses on learning and education activities, opportunities and challenges in the Greater Pittsburgh area.This multi-year commitment to providing learning-focused news coverage in southwestern Pennsylvania is made possible by a generous grant from the Grable Foundation.

Carnegie STEM Education Program Receives Grant for Two Year Growth

The Carnegie Science Center has received a $614,000 grant to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The two-year grant, from The Heinz Endowments, will benefit the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, which offers schools resources to improve their STEM classes.

“The tools are available for anyone to use,” said Alana Kulesa, director of strategic education initiatives at the Science Center, “but we have secured this funding to help us really provide some one on one direct support with some school districts as they go through the process, and offer them professional development opportunities that align with their priorities.”

Kulesa said the program has been in a developmental stage since last August.

“Now we’re moving, really, into an implementation phase,” she said, “where we’ll be able to work much more closely with extensive cohorts of schools and districts in our area with this new grant support.”

The program provides schools with additional learning materials and also helps teachers in these areas improve. This includes helping districts incorporate other aspects of STEM into the classes, according to Kulesa.

“The strength of STEM education isn’t just in the content on its own,” Kulesa said. “It’s a focus on using inquiry to learn and the integration of curriculum across these subject matters.”

For example, instead of strictly working with math in a math class, the curriculum could also include aspects of engineering and science.

Kulesa says these partnerships are important because the United States lags behind other countries in STEM learning. “Also, there are so many amazing career opportunities for young people.”

Currently, the program has partnered with 137 schools and districts in 10 states and the District of Columbia, including 51 throughout Pennsylvania, according to Kulesa.

“It’s really spread like wildfire,” she said, “which is thrilling for us and exactly what we hoped would happen, and that this would be a model…that would help schools not only in our region of southwestern Pennsylvania, but across the country.”

Kulesa said they work with urban, rural and suburban schools.  

“It is available, and it is doable and it is flexible enough for schools, no matter their budget, no matter their size,” she said.

Some local school districts involved include Upper St. Clair, South Fayette, Sto-Rox and Pittsburgh Public Schools, according to Kulesa.

This is the second grant the initiative has received from The Heinz Endowments.