Polk Education Foundation, a 501(C)(3) direct-support organization for the Polk County School Board, today announced it has received a grant for $5,000 from Motorola Solutions Foundation, the charitable arm of Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Through the grant, middle school students will be exposed to GPS technology, space flight, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and Project Management creating student interest in STEM careers, particularly in Space Exploration, Aerospace Engineering, and the Aerospace Test environment. In response to local STEM needs, the project High Altitude Ballooning with Global Positioning Satellites will support exploration of an area of the atmosphere not often studied through the project. This project will involve 650 6th – 8th grade students. Motorola Solutions Foundation provided $55,000 to challenge Florida’s district-wide local education foundations to inspire students through projects designed to help them solve real-world problems in science, math, technology and engineering (STEM) areas this school year through a grant to the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF).
Most students have little valid knowledge of what constitutes a STEM occupation or STEM career. Most students today have had little is any “hands-on” experience building things, and have never used a soldering iron to assemble any electronics. This project will provide an opportunity for students to design, build, and test their own high altitude balloon launched spacecraft that will ascent to 80,000 to 100,000 feet, with students watching everything via a spacecraft mounted camera. Of special significance will be student’s ability to view Earth’s thin atmosphere and the curvature of the Earth. The impact from student’s participation in this project will be the experience of actually building and launching something that works, and the interaction with a Rocket Scientist, a GPS expert, a Meteorologist, and an entrepreneur, the founder of StratoStar.
High Altitude Ballooning with Global Positioning Satellites is a follow-on project to Ocean Drifters, where students built ocean current drifting buoys equipped with GPS Transmitters that allowed tracking by students with any wireless device or traditional laptop or desktop computer; and Mini Sailboat, a similar project where the vehicle’s source of movement is the wind vs. ocean currents. This project will also allow tracking by students of the GPS Transmitters and instrumentation to measure air temperature, water temperature, and salinity. These projects were/are being conducted in collaboration with the University of South Florida and the University of Florida.
This year, Motorola Solutions Foundation grants will support programs that help more than 3 million students, teachers, first responders and community members around the globe. There is a specific focus on providing grants to programs that impact underrepresented populations, including females, minorities, people with disabilities, veterans and others.
“The Motorola Solutions Foundation is honored to and privileged to support the work of Polk Education Foundation,” said Matt Blakely, executive director of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. “We believe in organizations that are fostering innovation, building partnerships and driving change, and we’re proud to be part of the positive impact they’re making in communities.”
For additional information on Motorola Solutions Foundation grants program, visit: motorolasolutions.com/foundation
For more information on Polk Education Foundation please visit https://polkschoolsfl.com/pef/