STEM Education and Next-Level Learning

STEM is a key component in education today, and the Foundation for LPS loves to support Next-level Learning (one of our four pillars) both inside and outside the classroom.

According to Rob McEntarffer, an LPS Assessment Evaluation Specialist and former teacher at Southeast High School, the Foundation for LPS “helps to make the world a better place” in the work we do with students and teachers. Rob works most closely with the Todd Francis Creative Research Award at the Foundation, which was established in honor of a high school debate partner and friend of his. Over the years, this award has helped many students fund creative projects involving science knowledge, ecology, creativity, and writing. 

Students apply for the award in the fall and use these funds over the course of the year for their projects. Funds are historically awarded to students from one of the six different LPS high schools or focus programs. The Science Focus Program, or “Zoo School” as it is affectionately known (since it is based at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo), has students who very frequently apply and are awarded funds for projects they work on in the program.

A glimpse of the projects that have been funded vary from researching severe weather using a probe with remote sensing, to diatom, solar panel or brain power research, to robotics exploration, looking at environmental effects on midwestern freshwater clams, or writing about philosophies of justice and war, or the faces behind OCD and OCPD. Other projects have included something as concrete as a nature club landscaping project, creating a website or even writing a play or a newsletter for students. The possibilities are bound only by the award’s parameters and the student’s creativity.

Rob McEntarffer, LPS Assessment Evaluation Specialist