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Montshire Museum Gets Education Grant

Norwich — The Montshire Museum of Science recently received a five-year grant to support science education in rural K-8 schools in Vermont and New Hampshire.

The grant, from Hypertherm, will help fund the museum’s School Partnership Initiative, which provides workshops for faculty and staff, classroom-based technical support and model teaching, and a special science night for the school community. Faculty members also receive free access to the museum.

In return, the schools commit to releasing faculty members for curriculum workshops; involving Montshire project staff in math, science, and technology programs offered throughout the school district; and increasing the amount of classroom time dedicated to science education.

“Many of the rural school districts found in Northern New England are too small to support the infrastructure needed for outstanding science programs,” Greg DeFrancis, the museum’s director of education, said in a recent news release. “They simply don’t have the resources to hire professional staff dedicated to developing and coordinating a high quality science curriculum.”

Ten schools in five rural districts are taking part.

Science education is critically important to the region and the nation, the museum said. The fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have a major impact on the economy, the environment, health, international competitiveness, and technological innovation. But according to multiple assessments, such as the Program for International Student Assessment, the United States is no longer the leader in science education.

Through a longitudinal study of more than 3,300 young people, Dr. Robert Tai, a researcher at the University of Virginia, found that an interest in science inspired before the age of 13 is more important than test scores in predicting a future career in science.

“This program has been proven to lead the way both in building competence for teaching science and igniting a passion for science among students,” said Barbara Couch, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Hypertherm and president of the Hypertherm HOPE Foundation. “This opportunity aligns perfectly with Hypertherm’s interest in supporting STEM projects.”

The program also receives funding from the Donley Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation and the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

— Staff report