According to the research, one-third of boys and girls lose an interest in science by the fourth grade and a child’s interest in STEM is largely formed by the time he or she reaches upper elementary and middle school. The same research also finds that early exposure to STEM, especially for girls, makes children more likely to succeed in science and pursue STEM fields in college. Yet, just 38% of Nevada’s elementary schools report offering STEM during the school day. Therefore, if the State’s goal is to increase the number of students participating in STEM programs in middle and high schools that prepare them for success in post-secondary STEM degrees and careers, research suggests STEM concepts should first be introduced at the elementary level.
Daugherty, Michael K.; Carter, Vinson; and Swagerty, Lindsey (2016) "Elementary STEM Education: The Future for Technology and Engineering Education?," Journal of STEM Teacher Education: Vol. 49 : Iss. 1 , Article 7.
According to a statewide survey of STEM practices conducted in May, 2016 by the NV STEM Advisory Council.
 DeJarnette, N. K. (2012). America’s children: Providing early exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives. Education, 133(1), 77–84.
K-5 STEM Grants seek to promote equitable access to and the increased quality of STEM programs in elementary schools in order to better prepare students for a career pathway to success in the New Nevada. Teachers may apply for up to $2,000 to fund STEM projects, and schools may apply for up to $25,000 to fund a program from the STEMList of Recommended STEM Programs.
- To increase the prevalence of evidence-based, high-quality formal and informal STEM practices and programs in Nevada’s elementary schools.
- To increase the use of hands-on, evidence-based, experiential STEM learning in grades K-5.
- To increase the percentage of elementary schools that teach science for three-plus hours per week.
- To increase interest in, awareness of, and achievement in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in grades K-5, particularly amongst demographic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM.
Schools must choose to apply for funding for a program from the STEMList of Recommended STEM Programs.
Results of the Pilot Program
With only $150,000 available, OSIT received 42 applications requesting a total of $350,111 from Northern Nevada alone. 5,136 students in 24 elementary schools will benefit from these grants. OSIT also contracted with the Raggio Research Center at UNR to evaluate the effectiveness of the grants in three areas: student learning, student interest in STEM, and teacher practice. The Raggio Center at UNR conducted an external evaluation of the K-5 STEM grant program and found statistically significant increases in student interest and achievement in STEM. Read the full report here.
OSIT has created brief spotlights showcasing the unique and innovative STEM instruction happening at schools throughout Nevada.