For five years, the APS Foundation has partnered with Arizona Science Center to improve rural Arizona education in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math. In June 2017, the APS Foundation awarded $180,000 in grant funding to Arizona Science Center’s Rural Communities Expansion Project to implement professional development for K-8 teachers in Prescott, Humboldt, Holbrook, Sedona, Winslow, Cottonwood Oak Creek, Verde Valley, Florence, and Saddle Mountain during the 2017-18 school year.

“Arizona Science Center’s mission is to inspire, educate, and engage curious minds – within the walls of the Center and in classrooms throughout the state,” said Beth Nickel, chief learning officer at Arizona Science Center. “Through our rural outreach program, we have been able to boost the competence of hundreds of rural teachers by providing them with the confidence they need through hands-on training and coaching.”

The Rural Communities Expansion Project was first launched by Arizona Science Center in 2012 to provide STEM professional development opportunities to K-8 teachers in rural Arizona schools – something that had been clearly lacking. Since its inception, the APS Foundation has granted over $1.4 million to this program. The project brings Arizona Science Center staff into schools around the state, where they deliver tailored professional development programs for teachers, training for administrators, and student programs featuring hands-on STEM projects such as engineering activities and roller-coaster building.

“Arizona Science Center is a true leader when it comes to making lasting improvements in the teaching and learning of STEM subjects in Arizona. Through APS Foundation’s partnership with Arizona Science Center, we have engaged more than 400 teachers, 10,500 students and 21 administrators from 15 schools in 8 rural districts where opportunities for high quality STEM professional development are limited,” said Tina Marie Tentori, executive director of the APS Foundation. “As a result, we are turning on an entire generation of learners to STEM subjects, while preparing them for jobs of the future.”

This school year, participating schools in Arizona Science Center’s Rural Communities Expansion Project include Coyote Springs Elementary in Humboldt, West Sedona School in Sedona, Washington Elementary School in Winslow, Oak Creek School in Cottonwood Oak Creek, Verde Valley Montessori School in Verde Valley, Circle Cross Ranch K-8 STEM Academy in Florence, and Tartesso Elementary School in Saddle Mountain.