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Fontana Unified Middle School Teacher Receives $5,000 Society for Science STEM Grant

Jean Yoo

FONTANA, CA – Almeria Middle School will have more options to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects after science teacher Jean Yoo received a $5,000 Society for Science grant, which will help the school reestablish a science club and pave the way for a new science research class in the 2022-23 school year.

The grant will pay for advanced technology equipment such as hydroponic kits, centrifuges and physics sensors that will give students the opportunity to conduct more in-depth STEM projects and develop a love of science. Yoo was one of only 95 teachers worldwide to be recognized with a Society of Science grant.

“We are thrilled to be recognized with a Society for Science grant,” Yoo said. “Our goal is to make learning science fun and exciting for our students, so they can continue to pursue STEM in high school and beyond. The future is now for careers in STEM, and it’s important that our students understand they can contribute to making this a better world for everyone.”

The grant will help Almeria’s efforts to provide enhanced STEM instruction. Those efforts include a partnership with Cal State University San Bernardino and Verizon Innovative Learning (VIL), where students explore United Nations sustainable development goals, and Growing Beyond Earth, a classroom-based NASA citizen project which encourages young scientists to grow and test vegetables to see if they can be cultivated in space.

The CSUSB/VIL program begins with an intensive three-week summer component that includes middle schools from across the country, then continues with monthly meetings on Saturdays. Students are currently working on finding solutions for issues like zero hunger, clean water, clean air, world peace and equity. Students will present their findings at a VIL conference at CSUSB on Saturday, April 23.

“The VIL experience has helped me broaden my education and career choices,” Almeria student Jeannie Y. said. “I have been able to learn things that I didn’t know I’d enjoy as much as I did, and I believe it can really benefit me in the future.”

Almeria students were provided radish seeds and grow kits from the Fairchild Botanical Garden in Florida to assist in their NASA project, studying the effect of the duration of light on the radishes’ growth. The students will submit their findings in a presentation with NASA scientists.

The Society for Science grant will fund a research class that will allow students a chance to explore the Growing Beyond Earth projects more in-depth, using the hydroponic and aeroponic systems. The grant will also help reestablish Almeria’s Science Club, which first launched during the 2020-21 school year. The club, with 12 students, met once a month on Saturdays, conducting various experiments and practicing writing reports.

“We are thrilled to receive the Society for Science grant, which will help us continue our focus on STEM and preparing our students for college and career,” Almeria Principal Felix Jones said. “Jean Yoo is an extraordinarily talented and dedicated teacher, who is thoroughly committed to bringing science projects to her students that are thoughtful, educational and inspirational to our students.”