CRESTON, IOWA – The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) Educational Talent Search (ETS) program is the recipient of a $40,000 grant for supplemental STEM funding from the United States Department of Education.

The grant was written to increase ETS participants’ awareness of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields with a particular focus on computer science. The goal will be to develop students’ proficiency in the use of computer applications and to transition the participants from users of technology to developers of technology.

Throughout the grant period, activities will include building a team of students to compete at the IT Olympics at Iowa State University; hosting a summer camp at Southwestern during the summer of 2020 where students will gain hands-on learning experiences building and programming robots and learning the ins and outs of basic rocketry; and taking a group of students on a four-day adventure to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to participate in STEM-related activities such as astronaut training, Mars Base 1, shuttle launch experiences, and a travel to Mars experience.

Erica Frey, SWCC ETS director, said ETS program employees are excited about the opportunities their students will gain due to this award.

“This funding will allow ETS participants to experience STEM education in fun and interactive ways,” Frey explained. “We can’t wait to watch students’ interest and awareness of technology increase through inquiry-based learning opportunities.”

Southwestern’s ETS program identifies and assists students (grades sixth through 12th) who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The program provides academic, career, and financial counseling to its participants. The goal of ETS is to increase the number of first generation students who complete high school and enroll in and complete their postsecondary education. ETS serves the following school districts: Bedford, Clarke, Creston, East Union, Lenox, Murray, Orient-Macksburg, and Southwest Valley.

The Educational Talent Search program is 100 percent federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education.