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More opportunities in the area of technology will be available for Donna ISD middle school students this fall, thanks to grants that were secured by the school district.

Donna ISD middle schools – Sauceda, Solis, Todd and Veterans – were each awarded a $15,000 donation through the nonprofit organization Project Lead The Way and its partner Verizon.

Campus administrators were notified in April immediately after submitting the proposals seeking financial support.

DISD’s Math and Science Departments helped with the application process. “Only 100 grants were given out to school districts nationwide so as you can imagine we were overjoyed when we received notification that all four of our grants were awarded,” Director of Science Emily Anderson said. “It’s exciting when we can provide unique, enriching, and challenging experiences for our students.”

This opportunity will allow DISD’s four middle schools to offer two technology-related courses — Computer Science for Innovators and Makers and App Creators. “The great thing about these courses is that they are offered during the school day and open to anyone who has space in their schedules,” Anderson said.

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Anderson believes these courses will help generate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. “These courses will help fuel students’ excitement toward entering high-demand STEM careers, and also provide a motivator for students to take STEM courses in high school. Students will build a sense of confidence by successfully completing design challenges in these courses. Hopefully, that confidence will help empower them in middle school, high school, and beyond.”

Students who complete both courses will receive one-half high school elective credit. “These courses are not only for high-performing or gifted students,” Anderson said. “They are for anyone interested in advancing their technology skills and get high school credit at the same time.”

A.P. Solis Middle School teacher Esther Sauceda said she is looking forward to teaching both courses at her campus. “It’s exciting that we’re bringing these courses into our classrooms,” Sauceda said. “We’re making progress when it comes to STEM, but we’re not quite there yet. Bringing this kind of technology will help us tap into our students’ creativity. Our students will become innovators and teachers will become the facilitators. That’s what we want in the classroom.”

The grant will be used for teacher training, software, hands-on kits and Android tablets. While the funding ends after the 2020 school year, campus administrators are committed to making sure that money is available to offer the courses in the future.

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