Sparklight Awards $24,000 in ‘Dream Bigger’ Donations

Eight winners each received $3,000 to support K-12 STEM projects

Schools and organizations serving K-12 students in communities served by Sparklight and its associated brands had the opportunity this spring to win $3,000 to fund their STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) project or club as part of the internet service provider’s annual “Dream Bigger” social media campaign.

“It’s critically important for today’s students to have access to hands-on experience with the latest technology and we’re impressed by the diverse and innovative ways educators are utilizing technology with their K-12 students,” said Trish Niemann, Sparklight’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications. “We look forward to seeing how students will use these funds to go even further and to watch them develop into the future leaders of the communities we serve.”

The eight winners, who were determined by public voting, include:

Robert Stuart Middle School – Twin Falls, Idaho

The middle school STEM students at Robert Stuart Middle School currently have 3D to physically print the designs they model in PLA plastic. They will use their Dream Bigger award to purchase new technology that would allow them to incorporate different materials into their designs, such as cardboard, wood, or felt that would add additional textures, looks, and possibilities to their projects.

Kennett High School Robotics Team – Kennett, Missouri

The Kennett High School Robotics Team will use its funds toward competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics competition. This event offers students experiences that challenge them to learn and think like engineers. Team members design, build, and code robots to compete in alliance format against other teams, teaching not only STEM skills but leadership, collaboration and teamwork as well. The team has won several awards and has advanced to the Missouri FTC Championship twice.

Shelley High School Teens and Tech – Shelley, Idaho

Shelley High School plans to use its donation to upgrade computers with new software and new monitors to further opportunities for student learning., “We are a small, rural district and this project will benefit many families,” teacher Pam Kantack wrote in the entry submission. As part of the project, students will learn the process of wiping and installing new software on computers as well as manually cleaning them up and understanding how a computer works, both with hardware and software.

New Mexico Military Institute – Roswell, New Mexico

New Mexico Military Institute (NNMI)plans to use its Dream Bigger donation to host a STEM-themed open house at NMMI for the entire community. With a variety of events, including a science show, the open house will allow cadets to demonstrate what they have learned in the classroom and showcase their leadership skills and academic achievements.

Dowling Elementary STEM Club – Odessa, Texas            

Dowling Elementary will use its funds to start a STEM club, which will kick off with a field trip to Texas Tech University in Lubbock where they will get a hands-on introduction to the field of engineering. Students will learn what engineers do and how they influence our world and participate in developmentally appropriate hands-on engineering activities that will excite them about engineering and allow them to explore a fascinating world of possibilities. Following the field trip, the STEM club will begin meeting regularly.

Kaleidoscope Discovery Center – Rolla, Missouri

Kaleidoscope Discovery Center plans to use the winning funds for supplies and travel costs for its summer Robotics Road Trip program, which will bring robots and programming lessons to K-8 students in Dent, Pulaski, and Phelps counties. The grant will allow Kaleidoscope to add six additional stops on its Phelps County summer tour, which will include organizations such as libraries, summer camps and youth groups, selected based on need.

Owensville High School – Owensville, Missouri

The advanced STEM class at Owensville High School is using its donation to build a mobile STEM laboratory with the goal of sharing their interest in STEM with the elementary schools in their area. Working with a retired school bus donated by the district, students will remove most of the seats to make room for computers, 3D printers, drones, robots, and other equipment to demonstrate to younger students throughout the rural area what STEM is all about. There will also be working stations to allow for the design and build-out of projects.

Village Elementary School – Emporia, Kansas

Village Elementary School is developing a podcast project under the umbrella of its STEAM program. The podcast will serve as a platform for Village students to have a voice and simultaneously connect them with the community on a local, state, and potentially global scale. With funds from the Dream Bigger donation, students will be introduced to the field of telecommunications as a potential career pathway, gaining hands-on experience in content development, project management, recording, editing, publishing, marketing, and a multitude of other life skills.

Sparklight has donated $54,000 to STEM projects in the communities it serves since 2019.