Pioneer Valley STEM Network and UMass Amherst STEM Education Institute Award ‘Little wow’ Grants to Area Organizations

AMHERST, Mass. – The Pioneer Valley STEM Network (PVSTEMNET) and the UMass Amherst STEM Education Institute have awarded nine “Little wow” grants totaling $6,160 to provide more than 500 K-12 students in the region with exciting science and engineering experiences.

The recipients include Holyoke Girls, Inc. and its highly successful Eureka! Summer program for high school girls, the Springfield Technical Community College Gateway to College program, the Girls Club of Greenfield Camp Lion Knoll program and the Mount Holyoke College “Science Buddies” program in South Hadley.

Each of these projects seeks to encourage and foster greater science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) knowledge and interest through unusual and engaging field trips, hands on activities and mentoring.        

PVSTEMNET is coordinated by the STEM Ed Institute at UMass Amherst and is a collaboration of STEM businesses, higher education, K-12 education and nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley. PVSTEMNET has created the small grants “Little wow” program allowing area K-12 schools and afterschool programs to provide their participants with meaningful STEM experiences. Grants of up to $1,000 have been awarded in three separate funding rounds. Funding for PVSTEMNET is provided by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education STEM Pipeline Fund.

According to Jeff Hayden, the chairman of PVSTEMNET and vice president of business and community services at Holyoke Community College, “This program reflects our network’s commitment to increasing student interest and participation in meaningful STEM experiences. Funding these worthwhile projects can lead to greater student interest in STEM careers down the road and a long-term impact on the STEM pipeline for our region.”

In previous funding rounds, groups such as the 4-H afterschool program in Holyoke, the Square One afterschool program in Springfield and the River East School to Career Organization were awarded funding for field trips to area science museums and STEM career fairs, visits to UMass Amherst for science symposia and programs linking college science undergraduates with K-12 students.