STEM school funding brings Cantwell to Olympic High School

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U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell visited staff and students at Olympic High School on Tuesday after helping the Central Kitsap School District secure federal funding for STEM education.

The visit, which included a tour of Olympic’s aviation and robotics departments, included a panel discussion focused on increasing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities both locally and statewide. .

For the Central Kitsap School District in particular, Cantwell supported a $2 million Department of Defense Education Award (DoDEA) grant that will allow the district to move forward with its “Secondary STEM Project,” designed to enable and prepare middle and high school students for STEM. – related career opportunities.

“It’s really our job to look ahead and see around the corner where we need to prepare these kids,” said Doug Dowell, CKSD’s STEM Coordinator and Grants Supervisor.

Dowell said CKSD learned that his secondary STEM project grant proposal had been awarded on September 22. The grant will continue until May 2027.

Additionally, Cantwell secured $500,000 in the fiscal year 2022 omnibus appropriations bill to expand the “Engineering is Elementary” program into all 12 CKSD elementary schools. The district trained 170 teachers over the summer and sent 23 teachers to the Boston Science Museum for additional training.

Dowell said the district has received $14.3 million in federal grants since 2011, including $12.9 million from DoDEA grants. To be eligible for DoDEA funding, school districts must have a military-related student enrollment rate of at least 10 percent. With CKSD located near the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Naval Hospital Bremerton and Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, Dowell said the district’s estimated military enrollment total is 35 to 45%.

Regarding Cantwell’s visit, Dowell said Tuesday that the district has an opportunity to show how the funding it has received — the majority of which is tied to STEM advancements — is being used.

“Let’s see where those dollars go, how do you use them, what happens,” Dowell said.

US Senator Maria Cantwell looks over the shoulder of aviation student Laci Hammons as she uses a flight simulator during class at Olympic High School on Tuesday.

Cantwell began his tour of the Olympic High School campus by touring the school’s manufacturing technology space, which trains students in both aeronautical manufacturing and flight simulation. The tour also stopped at classrooms designed for teaching 3D animation, photography/drones, sports medicine and health sciences.

Dowell said the aviation program is somewhat rare at the secondary school level (grades 6-12), but it is offered at all middle schools and two high schools in CKSD: Olympic and Central Kitsap. He noted that Klahowya Secondary School will join this list in the near future.

Dowell noted that CKSD has an existing partnership with Horizon Air and parent company Alaska Airlines. Eight aviation students recently completed paid summer internships that involved training in all aspects of the aviation business.

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