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A school district is raising money to bring STEM lessons to all students in elementary school – all 3,000 of them.

In Bozeman, MT, STEM elective classes have been offered at the high school level for several years through Project Lead the Way.  Now, School Superintendent Rob Watson wants to find a way to bring STEM classes to all elementary students in the district.

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He wants all students to be exposed to science, technology, engineering and math. as those are the subject areas that lead to job opportunities in the future. “This is pretty exciting for us,” Watson told Bozeman School Board trustees.

Despite the courses offered at the high school level, many students do not sign up, since they think the classes will be difficult, or don’t understand the relevance to the life skills students need. Two of the middle schools have started offering STEM classes, but they do not reach all students.

With elementary school children, the projects stimulate curiousity, excitement, and discovery. “I love this,” teacher Tina Martin said. “It’s such a great opportunity for students to work with their hands, and the open-endedness leads to creativity. It gives them a chance to thrive without black-and-white answers. It lets them use their creativity and be successful.”

Teacher training and funding were the two big obstacles to achieving the goal of universal STEM exposure for elementary students. The school district has reached out to the community at large, with the help of the Bozeman Schools Foundation to raise  $350,000 to train nearly 200 elementary teachers.

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