The Education Foundation of Palm Beach County is proud to share that it received a grant for $5,000 from Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Through the grant, the Education Foundation was able to support the “Connecting Social Justice & STEM using GIS at Village Academy” program serving 71 middle and high school students from Village Academy on the Art and Sara Jo Kobacker Campus in Delray Beach, Florida. This program created solutions for real-world challenges impacting Palm Beach County residents and students through inquiry and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technology using the ArcGIS program offered by ESRI (Environmental Science Research Institute). Students enrolled in GIS elective courses at Village Academy lead the research, while students enrolled in other computer science courses participated in this inquiry-based project in order to promote student interest in STEM related careers.
The Motorola Solutions Foundation provided $55,000 to challenge Florida’s district-wide local education foundations to inspire students through projects designed to help them solve real-world problems in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) areas this school year through a grant matched by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF).
James S. Gavrilos, President/C.E.O. of the Education Foundation, shares: “This grant represents the heart and soul of the Education Foundation. We bring the business community to the world of education…and watch miracles happen. The Motorola Grant is an amazing opportunity to challenge our students to use emerging technologies to solve real world problems. Village Academy is an outstanding school…serving some of the most economically challenged students in our District. The grant from Motorola Solutions Foundation is more than an educational grant…it is an open door to a new future in S.T.E.M. for these kids.”
This project created learning opportunities for students in a high-need Title 1 school where the majority of the population are underrepresented minorities. By teaching students to engage in education by addressing social justice, computer science and environmental engineering, students are being equipped with lifelong skills and expanding interests in careers in computer science and engineering. Through this program, students were engaged in inquiry by addressing social justice, computer science and environmental engineering problems. This grant helped to equip students with life-long skills and expanding interests in careers in science and engineering. Students used ArcGIS Online software to complete 10+ different inquiry based online GIS projects throughout the school year. The projects were carefully selected to tie into the Environmental and Health and Safety Industries. Students selected their track--Drug/Opioid Epidemic or Exploring the Green Infrastructure--and conducted research on their track. For example, some students used GIS software to map areas where the community could safely dispose of prescribed opioids or where algae is impacting local waterways. As part of their research, students participated in field trips to learn more about their area of study and they explored how to use GIS software from experts in the field. They also participated in presentations where members of the business community shared how technology impacts their career and how GIS is used in today's workplace. Business partners included:
- Aerojet Rocketdyne, GIS Forum, South Florida Water
- Management District, Florida Atlantic University Geosciences
- Department, Drug Abuse Foundation and CVS Pharmacies
Students then presented on their topics to audiences and were able to answer questions about how they used GIS software and their area of study. The impact of this grant includes some notable statistics:
- 82% of participating students increased STEM-subject grade
- 19% of participating students showed increased interest in pursuing a STEM career
- 17% of participating students showed increased interest in taking STEM classes
“The Motorola Solutions Foundation is honored and privileged to support the work of the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County,” said Matt Blakely, Executive Director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. “We believe in organizations that are fostering innovation, building partnerships and driving change, and we’re proud to be part of the positive impact they’re making in communities.”