- Courtesy of John Cohn
- A Middlebury Union Middle School project on sustainable ecosystems, funded by last year's VASE grant
According to conventional wisdom, kids learn by doing. When it comes to science education, that means curiosity-driven, hands-on projects like building robots, raising trout and using 3D printers. But materials for those kinds of endeavors don't always fit within schools' budgets.
That's where the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE) is able to help. For six years, the organization — made up of scientists and engineers who work in both academics and industry — has awarded grants of $500 to $1000 to Vermont science and technology teachers, enabling them to bring more innovative, standards-based projects into their classrooms.
VASE offers two types of grants. Its Small Equipment Grant helps classroom teachers purchase hardware, software, lab equipment, STEM kits and maker tools for their classrooms. Its Hands-On Science and Technology Grant supports extracurricular programs like FIRST Robotics, Makerspaces and 4H and science clubs. Between the two types of grants, VASE gives around $20,000 to teachers every year.
VASE Outreach Coordinator John Cohn, an IBM Fellow at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, said that since the grants' inception, VASE has recognized the importance of funding projects that are sustainable, year after year. The organization also favors projects that are open-ended and playful — things that "spark joy," said Cohn.
Teachers' requests may look a little different this year because of the educational changes due to COVID-19, but Cohn is looking forward to seeing the proposals. The grants, he said, are even more important during these challenging times.
Find more information about VASE's grants for teachers here. Deadline for both grant programs is September 30. Grant submissions and questions can be emailed to [email protected].