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STEM Innovation Award

The STEM Innovation Award is presented in partnership with MESPA and the Science Museum of Minnesota. The new award gives principals the opportunity to share innovative programs and/or projects in their schools. Submitted applications become part of MESPA's STEM Innovation Database, available to MESPA members, helping schools across the state replicate their colleagues’ successes. The Science Museum of Minnesota will provide $300 of programming to the recipient of the award and the recipient will be recognized at MESPA Institute awards banquet – The MESPYs – in February. 

Congratulations to our 2022 STEM Innovation Award Winner: Independence Elementary STEM School!

Independence Elementary transitioned to a STEM school in September 2019 and serves third, fourth, and fifth-grade students in the Big Lake Schools district. In spite of the interruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, they continue to meet high expectations for engaged learning and collaboration. According to their data, during the 2020-21 school year teachers at Independence spent about 29% of class time engaged in effective collaboration with their students, a big increase from their goal of 20%.

“STEM is not a separate thing, it’s not a separate class,” said Principal Jona Deavel, “STEM to us is something that happens across all content areas and in all parts of [student] learning.” Students at Independence Elementary STEM take part in three STEM courses every year, and regularly complete challenges in the school’s STEM lab. Deavel attributes the success and sustainability of the programming to the teachers and staff at Independence Elementary STEM who have worked tirelessly to successfully implement STEM-based learning and strategies into everyday lessons in all classrooms.

Click here to read Independence Elementary STEM's full press release. 


  • Who can apply for the award? Any Active Level MESPA Member may apply for the STEM Innovation Award.
  • Can my school submit more than one innovative program/project for consideration? No, schools can only submit one innovate program/project per year.
  • What type of STEM Innovations can be submitted? Any sustainable and/or growth-oriented program/project that encourages and celebrates STEM literacy can be submitted for consideration. See past applications in the STEM Innovation Database. Some examples are:
      • New learning opportunities for students
      • Different and innovative STEM teaching methods
      • Different and innovative forms of measuring STEM outcomes
      • STEM professional development and coaching opportunities for educators
      • In-School or Out-of-School STEM experience(s) for students
      • Engaging families or community partners in STEM curriculum

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