FILE - STEM education

(The Center Square) – Eighty-nine schools in more than 30 Tennessee school districts will receive a total of about $700,000 in grants to fund science, technology, engineering and math education (STEM) programs, as well as career and technical education (CTE), the Tennessee Department of Education announced Monday.

"Ensuring our students have access to high-quality STEM and career and technical education is essential to building college and career readiness, and that work really begins before a student even enters high school,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said in a statement.

The money will be provided to the school districts Dec. 1, and the funding was provided through Gov. Bill Lee’s Future Workforce Initiative, which is designed to increase access to school classroom STEM and CTE training.

Grants were awarded after a competitive application process to recipients who prioritize aligning STEM and CTE courses from middle school to high school and provide career advice and job pathways for students.

School grant recipients will use the funds to create new ways for students to encounter and explore potential careers.

“Cumberland County has three teams of teachers that offer classes in STEM, Agriculture, and [family and consumer sciences] that travel each day and serve nine different K-8 schools,” said Dr. William Maddox, CTE Director of Cumberland County Schools. “The STEM grant will allow our traveling teachers to provide VEX robotic instructional material at additional schools.”

“Our students will learn about the world of STEM through the use of a 3D printer, robotics kits, medical exploration equipment, and hydroponics systems,” said Dr. Nathan Lewis, CTE Director of Jackson-Madison County Schools. “Many students in Jackson have not been exposed to STEM concepts on a large-scale. JMCSS wants to expose students to careers that involve STEM and challenge them to prepare for these jobs.”

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.