MOREHEAD, Ky. — Morehead State University, in partnership with SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region), has received a nearly $400,000 donation from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky Inc. that will implement STEM curriculum in 40 elementary schools during two years.
Morehead State has been engaged with the SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) initiative for the past several years. As part of the SOAR initiative, MSU’s College of Education began the SOAR-STEM project with funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
"MSU is extremely pleased to be a recipient of a Toyota Motor Manufacturing grant," said Dr. Joseph A. (Jay) Morgan. "The money will allow us to continue and improve the SOAR-STEM project that was started. We know that STEM programs are very important for the future of education in Kentucky."
The SOAR-STEM project has supported 81 teachers to participate in a master’s degree program that would allow them to obtain National Board Certification for teachers and the ability to teach high school courses that also count as college credit in the STEM areas. This project has been a collaboration between MSU, Eastern Kentucky University, Union College and the University of Pikeville, and 27 school districts in Eastern Kentucky.
The Toyota grant is the next step in the SOAR-STEM project. The 81 teachers will participate in a graduate course focused on STEM curriculum training and robotics using LEGO Mindstorm robot systems. The teachers will then take what they learned and lead a STEM robotics camp for students in Prestonsburg. In addition to the graduate course and the STEM robotics camp the teachers will be trained in Project Lead the Way STEM curriculum training so that they can then provide STEM teacher training to more than 3,000 teachers in Eastern Kentucky.
"Programs that focus on STEM areas are the basis of a pipeline of qualified workers in manufacturing, especially in production engineering," said Mike Goss, general manager, Social Innovation, Toyota Motor North America. "Toyota is committed to investing in initiatives that improve the skill levels of the job force, focusing on the next generation, because the success of Toyota, the Commonwealth, and our country depend on them."
Additional information is available by contacting Dr. Chris Miller, interim dean, College of Education at 606-783-2162.