Merton Intermediate School to compete in Follett Challenge

Merton Intermediate School is competing in a nationwide, education contest that recognizes innovation. 
 
It's called the Follett Challenge, and each year it awards grant money to schools as a reward for unique and inventive K-12 programs. 
 
Merton Intermediate School is among many institutions that submitted a video to the contest, along with its online application, showcasing its four STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) elective courses. 
 
They're offered to seventh and eighth graders and provide students with hands-on experience in areas like 3D printing, engineering and carpentry. 
 
"These classes are super engaging for students," said Mary Iwanski, the school's Science and Technology Integrator. "They really set students up for the real word things they can be doing once they go beyond school." 
"The classes give kids an opportunity to apply the things they're learning in their core academic classes to real world scenarios," Iwanski said. "So we take some of the science the kids are doing in science classes and then work it into some of the challenges we do."
 
Part of the Follett Challenge is based on an online voting contest. 
 
The ten schools that receive the most votes will win $8,000 each. The voting closes Friday and, after registering, users can vote once per day. 
 
To watch Merton Intermediate School's video and/or cast a vote, click here
 
The voting numbers also influence which school takes home a $60-thousand grand prize. Two other schools will win $30,000 each. 
"It's a grant challenge, so 80-percent of our total score will come from the grant application we filled out," Iwanski said. "But the other 20 percent of our score comes from the popular vote." 
 
Eight-grader Nora Voght, who previously took two of the STEM electives, thinks her school would be deserving of one of the awards. 
 
"The teachers have done so much work to make these classes happen," Voght said. "If we can get more opportunities to make the classes better, I think that would be really cool." 
 
The prize money is awarded through the Follett store. 
 
Iwanski said, should Merton Intermediate School win one of the prizes, it would look for ways to invest in its STEM electives and/or expand STEM offerings to more students. 
 
"We would really have some great opportunities to expand our maker spaces - or spaces where students can go to create on their own, even if they aren't able to get a spot in the STEM electives," she said. 

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