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APS Foundation awards $137,000 to NMSU for Farmington STEM programs

As many as 300 elementary and middle school students in Farmington, N.M., will benefit from extended science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs, thanks to New Mexico State University and a $137,000 grant from the APS Foundation.

NMSU President and Chancellor Garrey Carruthers will attend a reception in Farmington, N.M., next month to celebrate a $137,000 grant given to NMSU for after-school STEM programs in Farmington. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Susan Brown, director of the STEM Outreach Center at NMSU. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

“This is a very generous gift from the APS Foundation and an important investment in the education of students in the Four Corners Region,” said NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, who will visit Farmington to celebrate the award. “Understanding STEM subjects not only provides students with a solid educational foundation but it also gives students an advantage as they head into college and pursue high-paying careers.”

The APS Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the Arizona Public Service Company, recently awarded the grant to NMSU’s STEM Outreach Center to create STEM-related after-school programs for students in grades 3 through 8. The foundation invests in programs that enhance academic achievement in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The foundation targets projects that help educators increase content knowledge in STEM subjects as well as the ability to transfer this knowledge effectively to students.

“Supporting STEM and other education programs became the APS Foundation’s goal and focus in 2012,” said Tina Marie Tentori, executive director of the APS Foundation. “STEM is such an important investment into our community and it makes sense for us to be a leader in funding projects that move Arizona and the areas we serve forward in this area. We are delighted to partner with NMSU and helping to generate more interest in STEM careers within our Farmington community.”

The STEM Outreach Center will introduce two after-school programs. One, titled “DiMA,” or Digital Media Academy, will focus on using math and science concepts to create a short stop motion animation movie. The other, dubbed “COUNT,” or Creating Opportunities Using Numerical Thinking, uses mathematical skills and engineering concepts to create art.

The COUNT program aims to have a positive impact on students’ skills, confidence and interest in math, and is designed to help students find math in everyday experiences and create awareness about the importance of math skills for future educational choices and career options.

The goal of the DiMA program is to develop strong science and mathematics knowledge and skills using technology as a tool for learning and communication in order to prepare the students for successful careers.

STEM Outreach Center director Susan Brown said the center is always looking to implement high quality after school programs throughout New Mexico.

“It’s very important that we get kids excited about STEM as early as we can,” Brown said. “It’s always been our vision to be statewide.”

Valerie Tulley, executive director of curriculum for Farmington Schools, said she hopes the exposure to STEM fields will boost the enthusiasm of students and their parents, along with providing learning opportunities to Farmington teachers.

“Parents have long asked for afterschool activities that their students really want to participate in and the Digital Media Academy and ‘COUNT’ are just what we are looking for,” Tulley said. “In addition, the opportunity for our teachers is exciting. Providing teachers critical strategies regarding inquiry-based learning will bolster their classrooms and can be tied directly to our Farmington Model of Teaching.”

NMSU has had a long history with APS. Former APS CEO Jack Davis earned two bachelor's degrees at NMSU, one in medical technology and his second in electrical engineering with an emphasis on utility management. His wife, MaryLou Davis, also earned a degree in education from NMSU.

Carruthers and APS representatives will attend a reception at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 13 at the Career and Technical Center, 310 N. Court St., in Farmington. The public is invited.