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A $67,000 grant will help the Lead Deadwood School District enhance science programming in collaboration with SURF
Erin Lorraine Woodward

The Lead-Deadwood School District (LDSD), in partnership with the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), has received a $67,000 STEM education grant from the South Dakota Department of Education. With this grant, LDSD elementary teachers aim to enhance their science programs by collaborating with their hometown science laboratory.

“This collaboration between the school district and SURF allows us to capitalize on a science resource in our own backyard to the benefit of our students,” said Tim Kosters, principal of LDSD Elementary School.

This spring, SURF’s team of science education specialists will lead two days of teacher professional development; over the summer, teachers will spend seven days developing science lessons that will strengthen the current science program.

“While the teachers are excited to do science with their students, not every educator is confident in writing and creating a science-focused lesson plan,” said Julie Dahl, SURF science education specialist. “Our goal is to facilitate this process and give them the confidence to bring their ideas into the classroom.”

The lessons will be guided by South Dakota’s science content standards, and, in some cases, will incorporate the ongoing research happening at SURF.

“In elementary schools across the nation, there is a heavy focus on language arts and math, and we’ve become good at creating a strong foundation in those areas,” Kosters said. “We want to build that same capacity for STEM activities, too. We want to support teachers, so they can dive deep into science and dedicate time to teaching about scientific processes and experimentation.”

SURF’s education team works with teachers across the state, delivering in-school presentations, hosting field trips to SURF, and offering teacher professional development opportunities and curriculum modules with lessons and materials for 10 to 20 hours of classroom instruction.

Several LDSD elementary teachers have used SURF’s resources in the past, and Kosters views this grant project as a “springboard” for developing an ever-stronger relationship between the school and the world-leading science lab. “SURF offers a significant level of expertise to our teachers, and, with our proximity to the lab, we look for opportunities to collaborate with their team on a regular basis,” Kosters said.