Mississippi INBRE recently awarded a grant totaling nearly $2,500 to Mt. Salus Christian School, a private K-12 school based in Clinton, MS. Mt. Salus used the grant to purchase materials for multiple STEM-focused classes, ranging from simple wrenches and screwdrivers to microscopes and even robots. Mt. Salus reports that these materials have made a profound difference in the quality of education the students have received. Many have even expressed an interest in pursuing a STEM-focused career during college and beyond.

Susanna Reese is a faculty member at Mt. Salus and teaches 9th grade biology, 11th grade microbiology, as well as K-5th STEM. Ms. Reese says the materials have made a major difference. Her 11th grade microbiology class is especially pleased to have access to microscopes that would ordinarily only be available to college students.

Ms. Reese explains, “The microscopes are very nice and have given my students the opportunity to work with university level lab materials and procedures. My microbiology students have been very enthusiastic about exploring the invisible world of life around them by using microscopes.”

Of course, having access to these materials isn’t just about the science. By using them, students gain invaluable skills that are relevant no matter their career choice. Skills such as teamwork, the ability to follow strict procedure, fine motor control, and even spacial awareness are taught through their use. This is especially true of younger students.

“My first grade class is learning how to use wrenches and screwdrivers to create their robots. They are also learning the valuable skill of reading directions that are given in pictures and steps. These hands-on activities are crucial to student development of critical thinking and problem solving,” states Ms. Reese.

What’s more, materials such as these can inspire the next generation of scientists. The interests students develop from a young age are majorly influenced by their environment. By offering these experiences to young students, we can ensure they have had the full opportunity to explore STEM as a potential career choice. Many of Ms. Reese’s students have even expressed a desire to pursue STEM careers, including future doctors, scientists, and nurses.

Mississippi INBRE is proud to support STEM education in Mississippi. Our sincerest gratitude goes to Mt. Salus Christian School for allowing us to make a difference in your students’ lives.