Pace: STEM partnerships are in bloom |

Pace: STEM partnerships are in bloom

Heidi Pace
Summit School District superintendent

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It represents opportunities for Summit School District students.

STEM provides students with exposure to skills they will need to be competitive in the 21st century. These programs highlight skills such as inquiry and research, critical thinking, creativity and innovation, as well as communication and collaboration with others. All district schools are teaching STEM initiatives offering students a deeper understanding of professional careers that may foster a passion and guide their future career paths.

We are fortunate to collaborate with community agencies and organizations on this STEM initiative. In one such partnership, during the STEM Career Fair at Summit High School on May 9, from 9:20 a.m. to 12:05 p.m., students will visit STEM booths hosted by local professionals from the community to participate in hands-on activities and to learn about STEM careers. Colorado State University, Summit County 4-H, Frisco Workforce Center, Summit Education Foundation and the STEM Professionals group are integral partners with the district on this venture. If you would like to volunteer to help or to host a booth, please email Drew Adkins at

In addition to the STEM Career Fair, Summit County 4-H lends science and math kits to teachers to help enrich the curriculum in the classroom. This organization also provides STEM after school programs at the elementary schools, including microbiology, astronomy and veterinary science. SMS and SHS also host a CSU and Summit County 4-H after school robotics program.

The district also works in partnership with the Family Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) and Keystone Science School to offer a free after school CATCH Kids Club (CKC) at elementary schools. This after school program is designed to promote healthy physical activity and eating behaviors in children.

Our parents also volunteer to teach STEM concepts to students in our schools. Frisco Elementary parent instructor Kathryn Grohusky taught “Hands-On, Minds-On” to kindergarten through second-grade students during the first semester of school. Educating more than 25 students, Grohusky focused the curriculum on engineering challenges culminating in a challenge of building roller coasters with foam pipe insulation. Among the winners of the roller coaster challenge were the tallest climb, the biggest loop-de-loop and the longest run possible. Frisco Elementary is pursuing a STEM focus throughout its curriculum.

The Summit Foundation and the Summit Education Foundation continue to have strong partnerships with the district. The Summit Foundation awarded Summit Education Foundation funding for STEM materials at each school. These materials include weather stations at the elementary schools; Geometer Sketchpad licenses and iPads for Snowy Peaks High School; robotics kits for Summit Middle School and SHS; and, donations toward the SMS energy navigator which measures energy usage. Summit STEM/Summit Education Foundation awarded $2,500 to Frisco Elementary’s STEM lab for materials and teacher training. The foundation also awarded more than $10,000 to teachers for innovative ideas, many involving technology including Kindles and iPads and MP3 players.

The schools, teachers and students are grateful to our community for participating and supporting these STEM initiatives. The grants and donations received continue to benefit our curriculum and provide a greater depth of instruction for our students.

Heidi Pace is the superintendent of the Summit School District.

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