Students work with STEM project

(Caption: PSRC was recently awarded $180,000 in 2022 Student STEM Enrichment Program grant funding by Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support STEM learning in the classroom. Funding will support placing robotics in every second grade classroom in the school district. ) 

LUMBERTON – The Public Schools of Robeson County was recently awarded $180,000 in 2022 Student STEM Enrichment Program grant funding by Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support STEM learning in the classroom.

The funding will be dispersed over a three-year period, which will begin in April 2023. The funds will be used to place robotics in every second grade classroom across the district.

Implementation will begin in August 2023 and continue through the 2025-2026 academic year.

“This will provide equitable access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) across our district exposing students to coding and STEM careers,” said Susan Miller-Hendrix, PSRC Science Supervisor.

“Many of the jobs our second graders will have are yet to be developed but by providing them with these skills we are preparing them to be the innovators of the future.  Back to the words of (PSRC Superintendent) Dr. Freddie Williamson, ‘Why not our kids? Why not now?’” Miller-Hendrix said.

SSEP grants provide up to $180,000 over three years of funding for out-of-school time activities for North Carolina K-12 students. SSEP awards support career-oriented and practical programs intended to provide creative science enrichment activities for students in K-12 education who have shown interest in STEM, as well as those perceived to have high potential.

“Through this grant, I want to tap into children’s natural curiosity to spark an interest in Science and STEM as these students will be the problem-solvers of tomorrow,” Miller-Hendrix added.

Since the program’s inception in 1996, BWF has awarded 250 grants totaling $37.7 million to 110 organizations that have reached more than 43,000 North Carolina students.

“This year’s selections reflect the breadth of out-of-school time outreach and partnerships across the state’s geography,” said Alfred Mays, Chief Diversity Officer, and senior program officer for the SSEP grants. “The programs leverage existing STEM resources to expand deeper access and opportunity for out-of-school time programming.”

After-school programs demonstrate value in helping to close opportunity gaps for underserved and underrepresented students. These programs enable students to participate in hands-on STEM activities and pursue inquiry-based avenues of exploration—an educational approach that BWF believes to be an effective way to increase students’ understanding and appreciation of the scientific process.

Also receiving the 2022 Student STEM Enrichment Program grants are Campbell University, Duke University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute, and the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

“The Public Schools of Robeson County is grateful for this funding opportunity that will enhance our robotics program and help guide young learners on paths towards STEM careers,” said PSRC Superintendent Dr. Freddie Williamson.