St Vrain Valley Schools STEM and Innovation Center


“St. Vrain Valley Schools’ innovative STEM curriculum is preparing students to help drive the next era of cognitive computing.”

- Ray Chancey, Director, IBM Watson Labs

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Teacher Development/Training
Hands on/Project-Based
Work Readiness/Employment
College Readiness

Target Audience

All Students



English Language Learner

Low Socio-Economic Status

Teachers/Educational Leaders




Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Promising link

Program Impact

Each year, the program reaches roughly 6,000 of the district’s highest need students by serving the focus feeder system as well as the district’s Title 1 schools. Over the next 5 years, our hope is to extend this programming to cover closer to 50% of the district’s 32,000 students. Program evaluations indicate significant gains in student academic language development (especially for our English Language Learners), student engagement with STEM programming and self-identification as a STEM literate student, and teacher engagement through curriculum development.


Program Overview

The SVVSD Academic Excellence through STEM Innovation initiative provides STEM focused learning with real world application through professional opportunities for students.

We incorporate design thinking, industry partnerships, teacher involvement in curriculum development, career awareness, and postsecondary readiness into world-class programming. The three overarching goals of the initiative are to provide 1) rigorous PK-12 programming for all students (including STEM) at all levels, 2) personalized programming to improve student engagement and increase graduation rates and postsecondary readiness, and 3) professional opportunities to apply STEM-focused skills at the Innovation Center - an entrepreneurial space where students work alongside industry partners on professional projects.

Data collection and partnerships with industry mentors inform our approach to meeting Colorado Academic Standards through project-based learning and high levels of student involvement. Students advance their knowledge of STEM while engaged in design thinking, a problem-solving tool and basis for instructional design. Teachers integrate multiple disciplines into core projects, personalizing career and academic plans through the development of industry-driven curriculum, with connections to local and global community challenges.

Our commitment to sustaining and replicating this work drives our efforts to lead an era of educational excellence and reform.

How To Get Involved

Potential program supporters can get involved in a number of ways.  

Support MakerSpaces: converting school libraries into viable maker spaces with resources and equipment that would provide teachers and students with an area to create projects and experiment with materials. Resources needed for each school(15) makerspace: $12,000

Support Industry Certifications: Students are taking semester courses to become certified for the Information Technology industry. Students can chose three areas to become certified: $25,000 per year = 125 students

  • CompTIA A+- Computer Information Technology Industry Association certificate $200 per student
  • Apple MAC Technician Certification $200 per student
  • CISCO CCNA (certified network administrator) certification- $200 per student
  • Robotics- create a Robotics lab and program for the Innovation Center: $120,000 for resources
  • Invest in additional Aldebaran humanoid robots-NAO and Pepper models ($45K)
  • Invest in drone models ($25K)
  • Vex robotic kits and arenas ($15K)
  • Elementary robotic models-Modular Robotics cubelets, Spheros, Dot & Dashes ($13K)
  • Support student robotics trainers ($22K)

Support strategic planning and Vision for the District Innovation Center with IDEO- Phase I sessions for a team from IDEO to help create a framework and sustainability strategies for the next 5 years for St. Vrain school district STEM initiatives. Phase I cost: $250K

Provide STEM professional volunteers:

  • High School Senior Capstone Experts- Senior project teams will be creating a working prototype of their innovative idea in an engineering area. Experts are used to support the problem-solving and design process. This class is one semester and meets at the Innovation Center. The prototypes are showcased at the University of Colorado-Boulder Engineering Expo.
  • Mentors- Middle School Career Mentors for individual students involved in STEM projects
  • Guest Speakers- STEM professionals sharing their career path, expertise, and/or experiences with elementary and secondary students.
Funders and Partners


  • United States Department of Education through a Race to the Top District Grant received in 2013.


  • IBM
  • Aldebaran Robotics
  • Red Idea Consulting
  • OtterBox
  • OtterCares Foundation
  • City of Longmont
  • Longmont Community Foundation
  • Medical Systems Technologies
  • Apple
  • Esri
  • Modular Robotics
  • Sphero
  • Sparkfun electronics
  • Aleph Objects- 3D Printers
  • LinkSprite (PCDuino)


Patricia Quinones, Executive Director of Innovation


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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.