School districts in seven western Pennsylvania counties are getting a share of $530,000 in Allegheny Intermediate Unit grants for programs that blend science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM.
“It’s not just a fancy acronym to cover all of the courses that we teach,” said Rosanne Javorski, assistant executive director at the AIU. “STEAM really is a different way of learning. It’s a more integrated approach. It sort of breaks down some of the silos we tend to establish in schools – like this is math, and this is the technology, and this is literacy and this is science – and really it’s all of those things.”
The Allegheny Intermediate Unit is one of 29 units in Pennsylvania providing specialized education services to 42 Allegheny county school districts. This round of grant funding is part of an overall $2.63 million contribution to area school districts since 2009. Previous grants had focused on initiatives aimed at creating “spaces and places” for STEAM learning. The application process was expanded this year.
“Typically we would get the science and the math teachers, tech teachers,” said Javorski, “but this year we gave grants that were focused on the teaching of history via STEAM learning. We gave grants to family and consumer science teachers, which we know as home-ec teachers. We had a wonderful grant for the Allegheny Valley School District that was with health and phys ed.”
This round of funding will go to districts in Allegheny, Beaver, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland Counties; each district will receive up to $20,000. Funding for the grants comes from the Chevron Corporation and the Claude Worthington Benedum and Grable Foundations. Money will go toward projects such as outdoor “discovery zones,” tech robotics lab and an invention studio.