Rural Communities Expansion Project

Bringing STEM subjects to life in rural Arizona schools

Arizona Science Center is on a mission to bring an increased focus on STEM subjects to rural Arizona schools through its Rural Communities Expansion Project. In July 2016, the APS Foundation awarded Arizona Science Center a $385,000 grant to continue the program in Cottonwood, Oak Creek, Humboldt, Winslow, Prescott, Sedona, Tonopah, and Florence, with expansion into Yuma schools. Since its inception, the APS Foundation has granted over $1.2 million to this program.

The Rural Communities Expansion Project was first launched by Arizona Science Center in 2012 with the goal of increasing teacher confidence and competence in hands-on, inquiry-based STEM instruction, ensuring the same opportunities for success for all students, regardless of geography. The project brings Arizona Science Center staff and assets into rural districts, where tailored programs are developed for teachers, students, and administrators. This includes professional development programs for teachers, training for administrators and half-day student programs featuring hands-on STEM projects such as a mobile planetarium, catapult construction, and roller coaster building.

The 2016–17 school year will be the third year West Sedona School is participating in the Arizona Science Center Rural Outreach Project.

"The teachers love it," says Scott Keller, principal of West Sedona School. "As a rural school, without this program, we wouldn't have access to the resources that the Arizona Science Center provides. Additionally, we have a high English Language Learner population, so the more hands-on, visual learning we can do, the better," said Keller. "But these hands-on STEM projects aren't just great for ELL learners. They're effective for all learners."

"For example, in second grade last year, a teacher did a wind engineering project. Students built sailboats on straws and used a fan to see whose sail would capture the most wind. The whole class was super engaged. The kids all wanted to show me their boats. There was one hundred percent student engagement."

A special thank you to our generous program sponsor: APS Foundation