Community Foundation organizes drive to collect supplies for schools. Time and again, we see our community respond generously to collection drives for canned food or back-to-school supplies. We are organizing something new: a community collection for LEGO and K’NEX building toys. These can be used or new. Cash to purchase additional supplies is also appreciated. Called Building Blocks for STEM, this collection effort is one part of a multi-faceted initiative by our Community Foundation to raise public awareness about STEM education in our public schools and to increase resources for STEM curriculum for K-12 students. We have learned that our elementary schools have a great need for resources like LEGO and K’NEX – both to teach core curriculum math concepts and to encourage creative building design.

A cavernous shop room at Central High School has been renovated into a Robotics Lab for their STEM Academy students and the district-wide Hi Fives Robotics League New Robotics Lab STEM Academy’s expanding robotics program. ¬†Four years ago, Central High School launched a STEM Academy, a specialized program within the high school open to students across Mesa County School District interested in a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). The program has grown steadily and there are over a hundred students now enrolled. STEM Academy students complete the normal high school requirements for graduation plus required AP classes in Computer Science. ¬†Notes Community Foundation Executive Director, Anne Wenzel, “I am guessing there are many families like mine who have bins of LEGO and K’NEX tucked in closets and under beds that their children no longer play with. We want to engage the community in a drive to collect STEM building toys and distribute them to our D51 elementary schools. We also encourage donations of new LEGO Classic and K’NEX that community members can purchase at stores like eBricks and Target.” Building Blocks for STEM is scheduled to run from October 20th – 29th. Collection sites include: the lobby of downtown Alpine Bank, the MAVcard office at CMU’s University Center, the downtown Central library and the Fruita library, the Math and Science Center, and D51 high schools (Central, Fruita Monument, Grand Junction, and Palisade). Community members who would like to help us increase STEM resources in our schools are invited to send a donation payable to WCCF (Building Blocks for STEM in memo line) to P.O. Box 4334, Grand Junction, CO 81502. Donations will be used to purchase materials and equipment to expand coding instruction in the middle schools. We are collecting cash donations through December 31, 2017.