STEM Initiative Grants

In December 2013, the Skaneateles Education Foundation and the Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation announced a collaboration with the Skaneateles Central School District to fund an initiative to improve education in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The total investment in STEM education at the end of 4 years will be close to $250,000.

STEM grants supported by the Foundation include hydroponics, 3D printers, summer math and STEM camps, Engineering is Elementary, robotics, the Zoom Room, the audio engineering lab and so much more.

STEM Initiative Grants
STEM Initiative Grants
STEM Initiative Grants
STEM Initiative Grants


Through generous support from over 400 households, foundations and businesses in the Skaneateles community, the following grants have been provided under [the STEM Initiative etc. ]. For more information on an individual grant, please click on the grant title.

Vacuum/Pressure Apparatus and Accessories
Amount funded: $1,140.00
October 2014
In any of the physical sciences, understanding the behavior of gases is a key concept. Being able to observe this behavior first hand is an excellent learning tool. Also, the ability to observe the behavior of other types of matter, or a physical or chemical process, under the conditions of vacuum or pressure has countless applications in the areas of earth science, chemistry, and physics. While a vacuum pump is a common piece of equipment in a high school laboratory, an apparatus that can produce both vacuum and pressure and can also be adapted for specialized filtration and separation methods is not. This grant would fund such instrumentation.
Engineering is Elementary
Amount funded: $2,276.00
February 2014
A 2011 study found that students are deciding as early as second- and third grade whether they like, and think they are good at, math and science. Other studies suggest engineering activities help build classroom equity. The engineering design process removes the stigma from failure; instead, failure is an important part of the problem-solving process and a positive way to learn. Equally important, in engineering there’s no single “right” answer; one problem can have many solutions. In addition to building these 21st century skills, engineering activities call for students to apply what they know about math and science. And, because engineering activities are based on real-world problems, they help children see how math and science are relevant to their lives. This grant will bring more engineering units into State Street Intermediate School, giving our students the opportunity to develop and nurture both skills as well as a love for math, science, technology, and engineering.
Newton’s Hovercraft
Amount funded: $536.00
February 2014
Students discover the joy of Newton’s laws with this 40" wide hovercraft. Newton’s first law of motion says that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. However, on Earth there are other forces all the time, friction being the most ever-present. Because of these forces, it’s difficult to show kids just what Newton meant. With the assistance of the Hovercraft, students will feel for themselves.
21st Century Digital Data Collection
Amount funded: $9,009.00
February 2014
In today’s STEM-driven society preparing our students to use 21st century sensors and interfaces for precise, real-time data collection is imperative. Doing so will allow students to collect data, often at sample rates of thousands per second, and watch the data be graphed in real-time on a computer that is designed to work hand-in-hand with the sensors and interfaces. Such accuracy allows students to obtain more precise experimental results and do so quicker, which gives them more time to focus on data analysis and drawing conclusions. This grant will provide our high school physics and technology classrooms with Vernier sensors, interfaces, and software.
3D Printer
Amount funded: $27,976.00
February 2014
Wikipedia describes 3D printing as a “process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.” This process is used in many fields, from manufacturing to architecture. Providing our students with early exposure to this technology will give them an understanding of real-world applications and give them a significant advantage with college readiness. This grant will fund the purchase of a Stratasys uPrint SE printer.
Robotics on the Move
Amount funded: $19,075.00
September 2013
For the last 6 years, Skaneateles middle school students have experienced and benefited from a unique learning unit involving robotics and computer programming. The program, originally funded by a grant from the Allyn Foundation and then two additional grants from SEF, has been wildly successful and popular with students. Interestingly, the original Lego NXT Kits purchased 6 years ago have actually become less challenging for 8th graders over the years. In fact, the authors of this grant recommend that the Lego NXT Kits be shifted to the 5th grade, introducing students to robotics and computer programming at an even earlier age. Chromebooks were purchased to provide classroom portability and support the NXT software. Subsequently, this grant also provided funding for new Lego EV3 Robotics kits to be used in the 8th grade. This grant will fund curriculum development hours for both programs.
Engineering is Elementary
Amount funded: $4,609.00
September 2013
Educators are realizing that for students to develop a real passion for STEM-related studies and careers, their interest must be sparked at a very early age. Recently, Waterman School created a STEM laboratory to provide an opportunity for students to explore and learn STEM-related concepts. This grant funded additional resources to expand the laboratory, specifically adding Engineering is Elementary units, created by the Museum of Science in Boston.
The MOST Presents — Interconnected: Energy, Life and Water
Amount funded: $210.00
February 2013
Fourth grade is a transitional year for science education. Students take the comprehensive New York State Science exam, covering what they have learned over their school careers. This is also the year when science becomes more of a focal point in their curriculum. The Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) Traveling Science Show uses interactive demonstrations and a live animal to teach important environmental science concepts and promote conservation. This grant provided pilot funding for two performances of Interconnected: Energy, Life, and Water.
Zooming In, Zooming Ahead
Amount funded: $49,150.00
September 2012
Increasingly, the communication of ideas and subjects is moving from the page to the computer. Teachers are assigning video projects in their classrooms, professors are rewarding students for their effective use of video and employers are expecting employees to successfully communicate ideas, across the globe, using technology. Project Zooming In, Zooming Ahead expands opportunities for students to learn video production and has the potential to reach into and enhance every academic area; from science and journalism to art and social studies. Unique opportunities will be provided for students to creatively use video in classroom projects and programs. Another key element is that it levels the playing field for all students in the district, by giving them access to powerful tools at school, including dynamic and expert instruction. Now, regardless of what media equipment you might have access to at home, all students can create, excel and succeed. Watch a student-created documentary on this grant for more details.
Enhanced Spectrophotometry
Amount funded: $1,404.00
February 2012
Spectrophotometry, a branch of science where various colors of light are used to assist with chemical analysis, is a routine part of the study of chemistry and biology at the undergraduate and graduate level, and is introduced to students at the high school level. The Spec 20 model has been used since the 1950’s. Today, updated digital electronics in the Spec 200 provides for improved efficiency and measurement capability. This grant provided funding for the purchase of one Spec 200, providing expanded laboratory opportunities and exposure to lab methodologies likely to be found in college and the workplace.
A Better Way to Teach Graphing Calculators
Amount funded: $699.50
February 2012
Graphing calculators play a major role in all math courses offered at the secondary level and mastery is required for state Regents exams. This grant purchased TI Smartview Emulator Software to be used in conjunction with Smart Boards for all math classrooms. This software allows teachers to demonstrate interactively how to perform calculations, providing for more visual learning and the ability to show key stroke history.
Greenhouse Enrichment Project
Amount funded: $6,625.00
September 2011
Benefits all students in 10th Grade Honors Bio, all Ecology Classes and the Environmental Club students. The mission of this project is to provide an opportunity to learn hands-on plant sciences. This grant provided funding to update the greenhouse and expand the curriculum to include units on plant physiology, growth, germination and development. Specifically, experiments will include: • Biomass to energy conversion • Water use efficiency • Effects of environmental pollution on seed germination • Soil additives and Composting • Macronutrient efficiencies • Organic fertilizer studies • Wavelength use • Monocot vs dicot development • Plant growth hormone // Another project of interest will be experimentation on milfoil. This new unit of study will test the effectiveness of milfoil as a soil additive on a variety of plant types and in combination with other additives to determine best way to effectively utilize this otherwise nuisance invasive species.