KTA principal lands $2,500 grant to enhance STEAM learning

Students at Kyrene Traditional Academy have a new classroom where they can enjoy STEAM lessons. –Photo courtesy Kyrene School District

By Joyce Coronel

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A classroom in which every student has the opportunity to explore, imagine and participate in hands-on activities—that was the vision for Kyrene Traditional Academy’s DISCOVERoom STEAM classroom.

Now, Dr. Marianne Lescher, KTA principal, has seen that dream come to life. She was recently awarded a $2,500 grant from the Intel Foundation to help fund equipment in the Science, Technology, Arts and Math classroom located in the school’s new middle-school building. KTA, with an enrollment of over 800 students, is a kindergarten through eighth-grade school that also has two preschool classes.

Hundreds of educators applied for the grants and the Intel Foundation selected 44 projects for funding. Monies will be distributed in early July.

“It’s the beginning stages of setting up a STEAM lab for our entire school. We’re really excited,” Lescher said.

The grant money will go toward purchasing items to outfit the lab that will serve all KTA students. From 3D printers to other items that help teach STEAM lessons, there’s plenty of outfitting to be done. It’s going to be a multi-year effort and Lescher is also seeking donations of science kits, microscopes, goggles and other items families may no longer need. As for other equipment, “all these things cost money, but you’ve got to start somewhere, Lescher explained.

“We envision three or four or five activities that can rotate through on a month-to-month basis,” Lescher said. “Teachers can bring their classrooms in, they can engage in the activities and in the experiential kinds of things.” Activities will change from month to month and differ across grade levels.

“We really want kids to have these experiential activities to turn them on to science and math. There’s been a lot of focus on STEM and STEAM in the last couple of years and what we’re hearing from ASU and other places is that it’s making a difference; more kids and more girls are going into those areas,” Lescher said.

She thinks one of the reasons KTA may have been selected is that the focus was on all students, not just one group or grade level. And, the school has older students mentoring younger ones, with a two-fold benefit: lots of attention for younger students and the development of leadership skills for the older ones.

“We’re so excited that we finally get to get this off the ground,” Lescher said.

Elizabeth Shipley, of Intel’s media relations department, congratulated those who received grant funding from the foundation.

Today, we’re excited to share that 44 public school teachers from across the state will receive Intel Foundation funding to support their STEAM projects and initiatives,” Shipley said. “Congratulations to these grant recipients, and a huge thank you to all Arizona teachers, who are inspiring the next generation of innovators and leaders.”


Joyce Coronel
Joyce Coronel
Joyce Coronel has been interviewing and writing stories since she was 12, and she’s got the scrapbooks to prove it. The mother of five grown sons and native of Arizona is passionate about local news and has been involved in media since 2002, coming aboard at Wrangler News in 2015. Joyce believes strongly that newspapers are a lifeline to an informed public and a means by which neighbors can build a sense of community—vitally important in today’s complex world.



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