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STEM Education a Prime Focus of Defense Department Grants

The Anne Arundel County school district in Maryland recently got word of a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to increase STEM-focused opportunities in some of its schools that serve a high proportion of military-connected families, the Baltimore Sun reports.

It turns out that the federal government, through the Department of Defense Education Activity program, is supporting a lot of STEM initiatives across the country. In July, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced nearly $20 million in grants to public schools serving military children, according to a press release. The grants are reaching 15 public school districts that serve 23 military installations around the nation, including Naval Base San Diego, Fort Carson in Colorado, Fort Hood in Texas, and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Most of the grants as described have a clear and strong focus on STEM education. The new grant to the Anne Arundel district will mainly be used for professional development to change the way schools teach STEM subjects, and to offer students curriculum changes, the Sun story says.

Here's a quick sampling of some of the other recent grants:

• $2.5 million to the Lawton, Okla., district for a STEM integration initiative that will use math, problem-based learning, and technology to improve student test scores and future success in math.

• $945,000 to the Madison County district in Alabama to increase the percentage of students in grades 4-8 who are college-ready in math and science.

• $1.7 million to the Manhattan-Ogden district in Kansas for a project that aims to provide "focused contextual learning environments" designed to motivate students to explore and succeed in STEM coursework.

• $270,000 to the Yuma district in Arizona to increase science achievement in grades 3-4 through several initiatives, including extensive professional development, use of the Engineering Is Elementary program, and technology-based scientific inquiry.

• $2.5 million to Academy School District #20 in Colorado Springs, Colo., to improve student achievement by integrating STEM principles across curricular areas, expanding STEM-related programming, and increasing online and blended learning.

You can find summaries of all the new grants here.

A second batch of grants will be announced in late August. Since 2009, the department has awarded 186 grants totaling more than $220 million through the Department of Defense Education Activity program, according to the press release. The size of the grants is based on military student enrollment.

Also, in 2011, an Education Week story explored U.S. Navy involvement in an initiative aimed at encouraging more high school students to take Advanced Placement courses in math and science.

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