Farmington schools awarded $137,000 grant for STEM programs

Joshua Kellogg
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Municipal School District receive $137,000 to establish after-school science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, thanks to a partnership between New Mexico State University and Arizona Public Service.

The APS Foundation awarded the NMSU STEM Outreach Center a $137,000 grant to start two after-school STEM programs for Farmington elementary and middle school students.

The grant was one of 17 awarded by the foundation on June 22 to nonprofit organizations, according to an APS Foundation press release. The total amount awarded was more than $1.4 million.

The district is working on implementing the two programs at its 10 elementary schools and four middle schools, said Valerie Tulley, executive director of curriculum and instruction at Farmington schools.

She said they will provide an opportunity to introduce students to math and science with fun and enriching activities.

"We've had lots of after-school programs, and a lot of them are really to tutor kids," Tulley said. "These are opportunities to encourage kids to look into science, technology, engineering and math."

Susan Brown, director of the NMSU STEM Outreach Center, said the two programs the center and Farmington schools will implement are COUNT (Creating Opportunities Using Numerical Thinking) and DIMA (Digital Media Academy).

COUNT is a math-focused program designed to improve a student's skills and interest in math by using subjects like art to showcase how the two subjects intersect.

In DIMA, students are provided hands-on training in digital media, science and other subjects that combine learning and technology.

Brown said the programs can jump-start a student's interest in a career in a STEM field, where many jobs are sitting unfilled. She said for every unemployed person in the state, there are about 2.5 jobs unfilled with a STEM emphasis.

"We need kids excited about STEM," Brown said. "It needs to be taught in an intuitive and problem-solving way to get kids excited about it."

Tulley said the district is hoping to open the programs sometime in September after they receive the funding in August at a ceremony with NMSU President and Aztec High School graduate Garrey Carruthers.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.