Ada schools receive $7,338 STEM grant

Oklahoma Energy Resources Board Executive Director Mindy Stitt (far left) poses with Introduction to Aviation class members; Paula Kedy, executive director of academics and instruction for Ada City Schools; Ada Junior High teacher Andrea Appleman; and Superintendent Mike Anderson Thursday at the junior high school. OERB donated $7339.87 for the district for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities.

Richard R. Barron/The Ada News

Ada City Schools’ aviation program received a financial boost from Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas industry this week.

Representatives of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board visited Ada Junior High on Thursday to present a $7,338.87 check to the school district. The money was part of OERB’s $2 million grant for science, technology, engineering and math programs.

Every school district in the state will receive a portion of the grant, based on the district’s enrollment numbers and percentage of low-income students. Ada’s share amounted to $7,338.87.

The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board wants to promote STEM education in Oklahoma schools and has provided related materials to school districts for more than 20 years, said executive director Mindy Stitt. She said the agency had some extra funds on hand and wanted to do something to help public schools.

“We just thought this was a great opportunity to provide some STEM-related programming and materials and equipment,” Stitt said.

The OERB is funded by a voluntary one-tenth of 1 percent assessment on the sale of oil and natural gas in Oklahoma, paid by producers and royalty owners, according to the agency’s website. The agency earmarks less than 10 percent of its budget for administrative costs and dedicates the biggest share of its remaining funds to environmental restoration.

The agency also spends part of its money on educational efforts so it can teach Oklahomans about the positive impact of the petroleum industry, according to the website.

Spotlight on aviation

OERB officials reviewed Ada City Schools’ grant application and were intrigued by the district’s aviation program, Stitt said.

“Reading through all the grant applications, we just thought this was a really neat use of the funds — something different that none of the other school districts are doing,” she said. “So we just wanted to highlight it and come down and deliver the check in person.”

Stitt said other school districts are using their share of the grant to buy lab equipment, calculators, robotic kits and other STEM-related items. She added that districts are free to use their grant funds as they see fit, as long as the purchase is related to STEM education.

Ada Junior High science teacher Andrea Appleman said the district will use part of the grant money to buy Chromebooks for the aviation program. That purchase will help the district implement the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Introduction to Aviation curriculum, which is being field tested this year.

The district will use the rest of the money to pay for aviation- and petroleum-related activities for younger students so they can learn more about those industries.

Appleman said she appreciated the OERB’s support.

“It’s tremendous,” she said. “Just being able to use their generosity and their resources for me to be able to do my job and to do it correctly and give kids opportunities to learn and have that first-hand experience of learning.”

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Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.