Five states win STEMx Challenge Grants to expand and share innovations

Posted 10/24/2019 in Grant News Research STEM STEMx Challenge Grant

To address the most important challenges in STEM education, the STEMx network brings together leading organizations. Today, we’re announcing the winners of our latest STEMx Challenge Grants. Read the detailed press release from Battelle for more information about the grant and the commitments made by each state.

STEMx network invests in state innovations, including rural STEM education

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Oct. 24, 2019)—Today, the national STEMx network announced funding for five states to expand quality STEM education programs and add to the national conversation on innovative education.

The 2019 STEMx Challenge Grants funds projects in Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Four of the five awardees focus specifically on expanding STEM in rural areas, an emerging focus of the STEM education movement today. The fifth includes rural areas as part of a broader coalition building effort.

The STEMx network, a coalition of leading STEM education organizations, selected the winners through a competitive process. Each of the five winning proposals will achieve two goals. First, these programs will catalyze the expansion of quality STEM education in the selected state. Second, every state will document their success and share their expertise through the STEMx network, furthering the national dialogue on expanding access to education.

“The opportunities funded today will position these five networks as leaders in expanding STEM nationally,” said Wes Hall, Interim Senior Vice-President of Education and Philanthropy at Battelle. “The expertise they share will strengthen all states.”

Battelle manages the STEMx network as a part of the institution’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Today’s funding marks the second time the South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science has won a STEMx Challenge Grant.

“Through STEMx and its support of this program, more South Carolina students have experienced the inspiration that a quality STEM education provides,” said Tom Peters, Executive Director of the South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science. “This latest project builds our work and will allow us to expand the reach of STEM to more communities.”

Idaho:  New strategic plan and regional hubs planned to enhance statewide STEM access

Facing projections of a 26 percent increase in the number of STEM jobs in Idaho by 2024, the Idaho STEM Action Center looks to expand into a full-fledged statewide STEM ecosystem. The Idaho STEM Action Center will bring partners together and formalize a state STEM network with shared vision, mission, and goals. This new strategic plan will include a series of regional STEM hubs.

The project will be led by the Idaho STEM Action Center, a government agency under the Executive Office of the Governor.

Indiana: Community sessions culminate in state convening on rural STEM education

The Indiana STEM Ecosystem will host a spring 2020 STEM Ecosystem Convening to gather businesses, PK-12 education and out of school programs. Attendees will identify key local challenges to expanding STEM partnerships to reach students in rural communities. Planning for the convening will include open sessions in Indianapolis, Northern Indiana and Southern Indiana.

The Indiana STEM Ecosystem was established as the I-STEM Network in 2006 by the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, Eli Lilly and Company, the Lilly Endowment and Purdue University. For this grant, the Indiana STEM Ecosystem will partner with the Indiana Afterschool Network, ISTEM Resource Network at Purdue University, and the Rolls Royce Corporation.

North Carolina: Seven county rural region will select and achieve three key actions to expand rural STEM education

STEM West will rally the seven-county region of rural western NC around STEM education. A main event will be hosted in the center of western North Carolina at the Isothermal Community College in Spindale on January 30th (with a snow date of February 12th). That full day event will highlight local STEM programs, identify programming gaps, and select three key future action items. The facilitator for consensus will be Tom Williams, President of Strategic Educational Alliances, Inc. Following the event, sub-meetings will begin to drive completion of these three action items in time to report back to STEMx in June.

STEM West is a non-profit based in Catawba County Schools and is supported by the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (SMT) Center in Durham, North Carolina.

South Carolina: Local feedback session and new rural STEM effort

South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science will host a localized feedback session focused on rural STEM education with an emphasis on whole community engagement. Building off the Coalition’s prior success with the Grand Challenges format, the session will be interactive. It will also drive toward the creation of at least one rural STEM education effort to increase knowledge and sustain community support. The South Carolina team has already begun developing a list of potential organizations and individuals to invite and plans for more than 100 attendees.

Through a previous STEMx Challenge Grant, the state identified five Grand Challenges for STEM in South Carolina. These included building awareness about STEM and engaging more people in STEM advocacy. This follow-on funding will enhance current efforts toward these ends.

South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics & Science will lead the program.

Virginia: As foundation state network grows, meetings in rural regions

To ensure the Virginia statewide STEM plan meets its goal of increasing equity and access in STEM education, state leaders felt it was important to hear directly from community members. This challenge grant will give citizens a voice and role in the development of this plan. With these supporting funds the Virginia STEM Coordinator, Chuck English, and the Virginia Department of Education STEM Director, Dr. Tina Manglicmot, will visit five rural regions and host sessions where stakeholders will have the opportunity to learn about the development of the plan and add their perspectives. It will start the communications network that will help with future Virginia STEM developments.

About STEMx

Launched in 2012, the STEMx network is a nationwide coalition of state STEM networks. Through the STEMx network, organizations can share opportunities and solutions for addressing some of education’s greatest obstacles. To learn more, visit

About Battelle

Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers.

Battelle also manages a range of successful projects bringing quality STEM education to students including the Ohio STEM Learning NetworkTennessee STEM Innovation Network, and the national STEMx network.

Media Contacts

For more information contact Katy Delaney at (614) 424-7208 or [email protected] or T.R. Massey at (614) 424-5544 or [email protected].

STEM West: Asset Map–NOW LIVE!

Over the last year, data has been collected from the STEM West service area related to STEM programs and activities. Using the filter icon at the bottom of its page, programs can be located by type and location. A click on each icon provides additional information such as contact person, address, ages served, etc. Thanks to the AmeriCorp Vista, Carvan Rich and GIS Analyst Tom Bell from the Western Piedmont Council of Governments for their efforts. The data analyzed from this map will be used to plan future STEM programming efforts.

STEM Asset Map

STEM Trek 2019!

The second annual STEM Trek at the Hickory SALT Block hosted the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) this year among other local STEM-related businesses as a signature NC Science Festival Event. Even though the rain came down hard on Friday, 2,500 students still enjoyed experiencing the ORNL trailers, talking with the 40+ engineers and scientists. An additional 1000 students were hoping to attend but due to lack of sufficient transportation, several schools had to cancel. This event was one of only 2 NC sites selected for this traveling science fair. A local student attendee stated, “It was so fun to operate a robotic arm that moved just like my hand!” One teacher shared, “The scientists were amazing! They did such a wonderful job of explaining their jobs and equipment to our students. My students were highly engaged in each of the trailers we were able to visit.”

Hickory Daily Record stated:
“The themes of the trailers included: Become a Neutron, Extreme Science, Get into Green, Tiny Atoms…Big Science, What’s Your Problem? and Supporting Research. Although there was a slight chance of rain on Saturday, some folks braved the forecast and walked through each trailer and visited with local organizations and businesses.”

Saturday ended up being clear for most of the day, and the other 500 people in attendance enjoyed the interactive activities from local STEM companies. With the support of Klingspor, Catawba Science Center, ORNL, and STEM West the STEM Trek was a great success. Many thanks go out to all the volunteers! Plans are already in the works to host another event, possibly indoors!

STEM West receives $96,800 Open Grant from Golden Leaf Foundation

Funding will allow scaling of a four-year program called Filling the Gap (FTG). STEM West and The Science House of NCSU has consistently partnered on this program. Funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission and Duke Energy Foundation, over 40 teachers have been trained in project based learning (PBL). These teachers have partnered with local STEM businesses to create real-world PBL units related to business. These units make learning relevant and engaging.

The GLF funds will allow a Train-the-Trainer model to be developed. This summer, school district personnel will be trained alongside teachers. Next summer the individual school districts will be able to provide their own training with their own local STEM businesses, strengthening those public-private partnerships. This scaling model will reach more teachers each summer and engage more students each year!

CODE – Advanced Placement Computer Science for All Students & Training & Alignment for K-5 Educators’s Computer Science Principles is an introductory Advanced  Placement (AP®) course designed to broaden participation in computer  science. is recognized by the College Board as an endorsed provider of AP® Computer Science Principles curriculum and professional development.  The Course has been reviewed by the College Board and is pre-approved to  pass the audit. The professional development is also endorsed by the College  Board as meeting (and exceeding) the standards of the AP® Summer Institutes. 

High School AP Computer Science Training: FREE training and travel for NC public and charter schools! For more information about this opportunity contact: Sam Morris at [email protected]

STEM West – 2019 Upcoming Events!

Register now for the 2019 Spring STEM West Community Meeting

All are welcome to: 

  1. Meet with Kevin Baxter of NCSSM-Morganton who will be providing updates on the progress toward the school’s opening.
  2. Meet teachers who created  and implemented project-based learning (PBL) units with local STEM businesses.
  3. Learn about STEM West happenings.

The meeting will be held at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments on April 2nd, 2019 from 10:00-11:30. 


STEM West is excited to bring the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) Traveling Science Fair as part of STEM Trek, participating as part of the North Carolina Science Festival 2019. Six large trailers will be demonstrating STEM technologies covering advanced materials, clean energy, computational sciences, neutron sciences, and nuclear science & engineering. The lab trailers are engaging for all age groups! Families, youth groups, university students, clubs, scouts, are all welcome. 

The event will take place on the SALT Block/Catawba Science Center on Friday, April 12 & 13, 2019. On Friday the region’s schools will be bringing over 3500 students out to tour and meet the engineers. Saturday the 13th, local STEM businesses will be providing additional hands-on activities related to their work.  You may want to consider scheduling a visit to the Catawba Science Center and/or the Hickory Museum of Arts on the same day while you are on the SALT Block.

Video of 2018 STEM Trek and ORNL!

We Are Inviting Every Elementary School in North Carolina to Host a “Family Code Night” – This School Year

February 13, 2019

(Feb 13, 2019)  On March 12, elementary schools across North Carolina will be recognized for scheduling an important event in family engagement and computer science education: “Family Code Night.”  At the March 12 program launch, K-5 parents statewide, including 120,000 PTA members, will be invited to to see if their school is among those hosting this free and important evening program later this spring. 

Family Code Night has been recognized with an invitation to the White House, and on the front page of the New York Times. Hosting a Family Code Night is within the capability of nearly any school, no coding experience is required, and all needed materials are provided. It is an ideal next step any school can take to advance K-5 family engagement and computer science learning. 

Principals & Educators: Don’t be left out! Visit, download the Event Kit, schedule a Family Code Night for April or May, and put your school on “The Map” for Mar 12!

Program Partners

North Carolina Family Code Nights is supported by a remarkable collaboration of the state’s education, STEM and political leaders.

Visit to learn more and to schedule your school’s Family Code Night!

Download the NCFCN Invitation

STEM West Director Recognized by State Science Organizations

Dr. Carol Moore, President of the NC Science Teachers’ Association (NCSTA), was recognized at the NC Science Leadership Association (NCSLA) meeting in November at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. She was presented the Herman and Emma Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Education Leadership in North Carolina. Moore received a beautifully engraved clock and a $1000 Honorarium from Carolina Biological.