GV receives funding to boost statewide STEM programs


GVL / Lauren Seymour

Grace Smith, Staff Writer

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced that in efforts to broaden Michigan K-12 education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Grand Valley State University will be one of three institutions to receive an annual grant for the next five years.

MiSTEM, a governmental advisory council, was formed in 2019 to make K-12 STEM education more accessible and better prepare students for in-demand STEM careers. 

To accomplish this, the advisory council divided the state into 16 different regions, each with a district hub responsible for providing STEM learning opportunities within their district. 

As GVSU’s Regional Math and Science Center currently serves as one of the 16 district hubs, it will be responsible for allocating the grant funds awarded to the university throughout the region.

Alongside Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, GVSU is the recipient of about $900,000. 

The money awarded to GVSU is meant specifically to expand access to high-quality computer science experiences for students throughout the region. 

“The Regional Math and Science Center has historically been a place where we are supporting our K-12 educators and students,” said Kris Pachla, Director of the Regional Math and Science Center. “We’re building off that rich history of supporting K-12 educators and students by being a space for convening and collaborating within the network.”

Coupled with the enormous growth projections over the next decade for STEM-based occupations, this grant money may be instrumental in making Michigan a world leader in STEM education and careers. 

“STEM education opportunities are critical as we prepare young Michiganders for high-tech, high-skill careers that will serve as the backbone of Michigan’s economy,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a press release. “These investments are critical to ensure our schools have the funds to help each and every Michigander reach their full potential.”

Currently, GVSU’s Regional Math and Science Center is developing a four-year strategic plan for how each region of the MiSTEM network will be supported by the grant. 

To accomplish this, the Regional Math and Science Center has developed a team of STEM and educational experts to ensure that each MiSTEM region has the resources to address its specific needs. 

“There are state-wide activities that we’ll be coordinating and funding,” Pachla said. “These are things like the Computer Science Professional Learning Network for K-12 educators and students…doing big conferences for the state of Michigan to outline what’s happening in computer science or running professional development to figure out how we infuse computer science into the elementary classroom.”

The initial goals of the team involve providing professional development for computer science educators and increasing access to computer science education for K-12 students.