Teacher Participants Needed For KSU Training on Rural STEM Learning

A $2.7 million federal grant is helping the Kansas State University College of Education improve rural education in the state, and the college is offering free training and thousands of dollars in resources for teachers to take advantage of the last year of grant funding.

The College of Education’s Rural Education Center, or REC, is seeking rural teachers and schools to participate in the final year of programming funded by a nearly $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. The grant is designed to promote students’ interest in degrees and careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Participating schools receive funds for professional development sessions and $3,000 to purchase technology, enabling them to host their own LEAPES camp this summer. Project LEAPES is an acronym for Learning, Exploration, and Application for Prospective Engineering Students.

The 2024 Project LEAPES Virtual Camp will take place 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Monday-Thursday, June 3-13, and Monday- Friday, June 17-21, excluding the Juneteenth holiday. This year’s camp will include new robotics kits and self-paced asynchronous coding activities. The registration fee is $100 and is open to students in upper elementary and grades 6 through 8.

Classes are offered synchronously over Zoom, with students reporting to their local classroom to use equipment. The local teacher will co-teach with a K-State faculty member online.

Teachers who sign up will receive a $1,000 stipend and more than $3,000 worth of classroom equipment. They will also receive two professional development sessions on April 15 and April 29 where they’ll learn to use the new equipment.

In partnership with The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, or CReSIS, at the University of Kansas, the REC builds upon its successful Summer STEM program to encourage students throughout the state of Kansas to consider careers in STEM through Project LEAPES.

Last summer approximately 280 students from 32 schools participated in the middle school virtual camps. Five more classrooms participated asynchronously in Fall 2023 with approximately 120 students participating. Additionally, 80 students participated in the high school camp hosted at the University of Kansas.

The LEAPES grant is part of more than $47 million in awards recently announced under the National Defense Education Program in STEM, biotechnology and enhanced civics education.

J. Spencer Clark, professor and REC director; Lori Goodson, assistant professor and REC assistant director; and Ennis Rios, program coordinator, are assisting with the project.

Schools may register online at commerce.cashnet.com/edudean?itemcode=EDUDEAN-4a. For more information, contact Rios at 785-532-3977 or email the Rural Education Center at [email protected].