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HSSP Pilot Site: Salt River Elementary School
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In the News


Interior Secretary Kicks-off Native Youth Listening Tour at Salt River


Developing a STEM Program at the Elementary School Level


Family STEM Night


Lift off Science Carnival at Salt River



Mars Day at Salt River Elementary


STEM and Robotics


Our Story Begins...

The Salt-River Elementary School (SRES) is a K-6 school located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community which is a sovereign Indian reservation located in the Phoenix area. The original intend of the HSSP grant was to introduce SRES students to STEM through a series of after-school activities, and then increasing the presence of STEM in the schools by providing professional development to all teachers in STEM, Common Core and AZ College and Career Ready Standards.

"Planting the STEM identity seed can be a crucial factor in helping students plan for their future at the collegiate level and, eventually, their careers."
- Lynette Charlie, STEM Coordinator and 1st grade teacher, Salt River Elementary School

In the End...

Salt River Elementary School is proud to be part of the Helios STEM Pilot (HSSP) schools project. As one of the seven schools chosen for this generous award we have had the opportunity to build a STEM program that reflected the unique environment of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Community school, a program built on the premise that all our students would be provided an equitable opportunity to engage in a STEM environment that fostered proficient inquiry, collaboration and creative problem solving.

The Helios STEM grant provided us with an opportunity to build partnerships with Science Foundation Arizona and other pilot schools. This partnership helped us define our STEM goals, thus creating a strategic plan that assisted in building a solid after-school STEM program and integration of STEM into our daily work in the classroom.

Salt River Elementary used the grant to fund STEM opportunities for our students. It created after-school STEM classes increased our ability to purchase much needed supplies for classroom STEM integration, provided professional development for our teachers, and a much needed mobile tablet lab.

To ensure STEM sustainability a 3 year professional development plan was designed to ensure teachers and administrators develop a deeper understanding of STEM and instructional practices using science and engineering practices allowing us to develop and articulate a vision rich with rigorous STEM programs that is taught to all students. The focus of teacher workshops was to increase their understanding of the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education as it relates to Scientific and Engineering practices.

Our STEM journey has many notable accomplishments. One of those accomplishments was building the STEM knowledge for our parents and local community. Salt River held 4 successful STEM family nights over the course of the grant-period. Prior to the grant, our school science nights often suffered from low attendance rates. Over the years science night attendance by Salt River families ranged from 50-100 attendees for our K-6 school. As we developed our STEM strategic plan we also incorporated ideas to change our science nights. Family focused STEM challenges and booths were integrated into the event, and what we saw was an immediate increase in our Family STEM nights. Attendance count for our first STEM family night was and astounding 332 people!

Our grant also allowed us to develop our afterschool STEM programs. Partnering with the 21st Century program our students were able to stay late for STEM classes that were held 4 days a week. The partnership that was built between the STEM program and 21st Century program evolved into a STEM summer school program that engaged students from grades K-5 in full STEM integration classrooms.

Our students have earned many opportunities to extend their participation in STEM activities beyond our school. One most notable and recent was a partnership created between our STEM program and the U. S. Embassy. This partnership allowed us to send two of our Salt River students, their parents, and our STEM Liaison to Sri Lanka. They provided STEM workshops to teachers and students and shared the culture of the Onk Akimel O’Odham people while being hosted by the U.S. Embassy.

Salt River Elementary school is truly grateful for the generous support provided by the Helios Education Foundation and Science Foundation Arizona. As we look towards the future, we know the partnerships we have built, the knowledge we have gained and the commitment to our students and STEM education will be the foundation for our STEM sustainability and that future looks bright.

Studying STEM

Visit more Sites... To learn more about the HSSP sites, click on the images below.

  • Altar Valley ESD

  • Alhambra ESD

  • Bagdad USD

  • Congress ESD

  • Salt River Elementary School

  • W.F. Killip Elementary School

  • Yuma ESD

  • The HELIOS STEM Schools Journey

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