STEM4ME Grants Program
The Maine Space Grant Consortium is partnering with the Perloff Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation, through the STEM4ME Program, to support projects that encourage students to create real-world solutions to problems in areas such as renewable energy, ecology, automation, space science and sustainable food production, integrating wherever possible the arts and humanities. Eligible applicants are educators at publicly funded middle schools, high schools and academies. Up to $5,000 may be requested for up to 2 years.
Recipients of STEM4ME grants are encouraged to work in small entrepreneurial teams, combining classroom knowledge with real-world experience. Mentorship by experienced educators, working relationships with Maine businesses, and links to existing programs at Maine’s colleges and universities are encouraged and supported.
An important component of this grant program is providing technical know how and coaching to help teams set priorities, measure progress and communicate results. Above all, we hope to fire the imagination of participating students, thereby developing or reinforcing their interest in pursuing an engineering or technical career.
Currently Funded Projects
Smart Greenhouse Research, Kennebunk High School. Funds will support the construction of a smart greenhouse as a pre-engineering class project for students in grades 11 and 12. This project is important to students for a few reasons. Students will learn sound experimental design and proper data collection and experimentation methods. Students will become self sufficient with the teacher acting as a coach to design greenhouse layout, solar development, robotics development, monitoring and hypotheses testing. Students will learn numerous tools including Google sketch-up, some C-programming, basics of robotics and pumps and electrical testing. Student will study sustainability and off-the-grid construction as the project builds solar battery stations and solar water heating systems. Most importantly, students will learn teamwork and project design by working together with an end goal in sight.
Sustainable Food Production, Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. Funds will support the development of a financially viable, productive, maple syrup producing facility that could be used by the school and community, and will serve as a model for other schools across the state. Students will learn the process in which maple syrup is made and be responsible for designing and constructing the entire system to which process the sap into syrup. This project will also allow for a project-based unit focused on entrepreneurial skills of marketing the processed syrup. Students will use GPS technology and Google Earth to create computer generated maps. The project will create an opportunity for hands on learning, promote active and engaged learning in the classroom and help to take education outside. It will help students appreciate Maine’s forests. A project like this will provide students with an opportunity to use technology to solve ongoing food shortage issues and allow student an opportunity to UNPLUG during a typical school day.
Energy Efficient and Design Construction, Casco Bay High School. In this project, students will learn about the concepts of heat transfer and green design through building working models and designing of energy efficient chicken coops. The students will learn these concepts based through in class lab experiences, computer models from the Concord Consortium, and building and testing a “kit” box out of actual building materials and determining the efficiency of their designs. The value of this project will be the ability to provide actually engineering experience to such a diverse group of students. Casco Bay High School has a population that is approximately 40% immigrant students who are English Language Learners.
Robotics for Young Students, Challenger Learning Center. This project focuses on teaching a LEGO-based robotics building & programming for beginners in grades 2-5 in Maine. Students will be introduced to robotic building mechanics with motors, gears and cams, and they will get to experience integrating reaction sensors into their systems. Also, students will use the LEGO WeDo drag-and-drop programming to learn programming basics and begin experimenting with programming language on their own.
Winter Flounder Trap, Deer Isle-Stonington High School. For the Eastern Maine Skippers Program (EMSP) Winter Flounder Project, students from Downeast Maine will study the life history of winter flounder such as prey choice, behavior, and habitat preferences. Students will also study the current rules that constrain development of a new fishery- including those that provide strict regulation of fishing gear use and design. With this information, school teams will engineer a flounder trap to maximize the amount of legal flounder and minimize bycatch. Students will design the trap dimensions, orientation, weight, fish entry and mechanisms for the exit for non-target species. While designing and field testing the innovative flounder trap technology, students will collect data that will also address the question of whether it is possible to start an economically and environmentally sustainable fishery in Downeast Maine.
Biodiesel from Algae, Leavitt Area High School. In this project, sophomore biology students will cultivate and monitor algae and extract the triglycerides. Junior chemistry students will convert the triglycerides to biodiesel and an independent study chemistry student will oversee the project, present our findings to an audience including a panel of teachers for his senior project, and share our findings with <TeachEngineering.org>. Using authentic learning opportunities, the project will engage the students in the sciences. Leavitt students will be more prepared for post-secondary education and contribute to local environmental initiatives.