NCSD awarded $125K for mobile STEM lab aimed to expose students to career options - Casper, WY Oil City News
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NCSD awarded $125K for mobile STEM lab aimed to expose students to career options

Students at Pathways Innovation Center in Casper work on a house construction project in February 2020. (Brendan LaChance, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Education has awarded a $125,000 grant to the Natrona County School District for a mobile “STEM” lab.

Rob Hill, construction teacher at Pathways Innovation Center, helped with the grant writing process and explained on Monday that the mobile lab will be equipped with lasers, welding equipment, construction equipment, drones and robotics and aims to help students “with career choices.”

He noted that the mobile lab aims to expose students at the middle school and elementary school level to career and technical education while integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning.

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The mobile STEM lab will be able to move throughout the district and Hill noted that industry partners are also supporting the concept. Partners outside of the district include Advance Casper, GW Mechanical as well as Casper College.

An advantage of the mobile lab is that equipment can be shared across the district, saving costs during a time when the state is facing diminishing revenues, Hill noted.

“We can share,” Hill added, noting that the mobile lab can support education even “after the bells.”

Wyoming Department of Education Career and Technical Education (CTE) State Director Dr. Michelle Aldrich announced that NCSD would receive the grant duringt the NCSD Board of Trustees meeting on Monday.

“I know that you have so many things that you need to take care of,” she began, adding that she thought it was important to “recognize people who go above and beyond the norm.”

“You have some amazing staff people,” Alrich added, mentioning Hill, Natrona County High School Assistant Principal Lucas Dow and others. “This group of people has worked relentlessly on your behalf.”

She said that in addition to the $125,000 grant, which comes from state general fund money, NCSD will receive additional funding to support CTE. That includes approximately $330,000 in Perkins V grant funding as well as two $25,000 Cutting Edge grants.

The Board of Trustees meeting can be viewed on NCSD’s Youtube channel: