A unique dilemma for STEM teachers is having the funds to purchase all the supplies needed to create an innovative classroom. Bringing a Gleim Virtual Cockpit to the classroom increases engagement for students but finding the funds to purchase it can be a daunting task. A teacher never has enough individual supply money for a large purchase such as a simulator, and most times, the school has budgeted the large allocations to the purchase of computers. However, there is a way around this obstacle. Grant writing.
When presented with the term “grant writing,” one might feel a sense of trepidation and believe it is a task better suited for the team at the district office. Yet, some grants can be as easy as filling out a one-page form. Of course, there are several large grants such as the National Science Foundation grants (NSF) that require a team of writers to complete the application. In either case, there are some standard components to be included, and with a few tips, any teacher can craft an effective proposal.
The first task in securing a grant is to find one that matches the goals in your classroom. Most STEM grants are searching for proposals that show the greatest need for the funds being offered. This means, the proposal must demonstrate how the funds will have a direct impact on student outcomes. “Keeping the end in mind” is a phrase to refer to when writing the goals. What will the students gain by having this equipment? Ultimately, you want to increase the knowledge base for the course being taught. Therefore, you must state your goals clearly and have specific objectives that will measure the outcome. An example of a measurable goal in an Aviation classroom could include Students using a flight simulator will increase their scores by 20% on the FAA written exam because a student learns best when concepts are taught in authentic real-world situations. Another example of a specific goal could be Students using a flight simulator will increase their scores by 20% on the AP Physics exam. Funding sources like to see specificity, so the objectives must be measurable.
Another tip for writing a solid proposal is to delineate the deliverables. A grant writer will develop a plan for collecting tangible items from the classes as evidence of proper use of funding. Usually, the deliverables are scheduled on a timeline included in your proposal. For example, in the use of a flight simulator, a teacher could propose that the students will submit an online check-sheet each week that provides the data of the skills they learned in the simulator for that lesson along with dates and times of mastering the skill. In another example, the teacher may assign a deliverable that is project-based such as designing an airfoil to test lift in a wind tunnel that is due at the end of the quarter. Deliverables are essential to a well-crafted proposal.
Finally, the best proposals have an itemized budget. A grant writer will account for each item to be purchased with grant funds. When developing your budget, be sure to check the proposal specifications for allowable items to purchase. Some grants have restrictions on what can be purchased. However, the budget must account for all expected expenses. A teacher cannot spend grant money on items not included in budget. Some organizations will allow some leniency, but as a guideline, it’s best to stick with an itemized budget.
Now that you have the tips on submitting a good proposal, you are probably wondering where to find these grant sources. With a variety of grants out there, some are offered by your local school foundations while others can be found on the websites of the bigger companies such as Westinghouse or Boeing. At Gleim, we believe in helping you find sources of money to bring your dream aviation class to life. Throughout the year, you can find grant opportunities posted on the STEM Loop Forum on the Gleim STEM Hub. The STEM Loop Forum is an interactive site where you can share ideas with other aviation teachers, post classroom ideas or connect about the latest news in aviation education.
At Gleim, we aim to offer individual support for whatever aviation classroom needs you may have. Feel free to reach out to our aviation specialists or STEM specialist to talk about what you may need to help create your innovative STEM classroom.
Written by: Maureen Shankman, Aviation STEM Coordinator