Bayer supports pair of Muscatine County STEM projects

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Though the middle of summer may seem like a quiet time of the year, both Muscatine High School’s Fire Island Robotics Team and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Muscatine County remain hard at work designing positive STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) experiences for students of all ages. To support their work, Bayer presented each group with a $10,000 grant the week of July 12.

Chris Boar (left) and Silvia Malaman (right) presenting Chris and Silas Hoffman (center) with $10,000 for the Fire Island Robotics Team.

Since 2016, Fire Island Robotics has provided a fun and competitive environment where students can put their STEM skills to the test. This summer, the team plans to bring STEM experience to younger students through mobile technology incorporated into Muscatine Community School District’s Summer Program for Arts, Recreation, and Knowledge (S.P. A. R. K.) and by purchasing a FarmBot, which students can program to take care of a raised garden bed.

With this new grant in hand, Fire Island Robotics coach Chris Hoffman looks forward to helping more children find a passion for STEM at a younger age: “Thank you, Bayer! You’ve not only supported our local robotics team repeatedly over the years, via Bayer’s international focus on supporting FIRST Robotics teams worldwide, you’ve now also partnered with us to impact younger students too,” he stated. As the team begins working with these younger students and planning for next year, Hoffman encourages high school students interested in joining to contact

For their part, Bayer felt equally good about supporting the team’s efforts. Community Outreach Coordinator Chris Boar said, “FIRST Robotics is a great program that helps students discover the fun of STEM and teaches them new skills, creativity, and problem solving.”

Bayer presenting ISU Extension and Outreach with $10,000 to build a greenhouse. Left to right: Ann Green, Chris Boar, Dana Allan, Silvia Malaman, and Lauren Nerad.

Meanwhile at the Extension Office, K-12 Outreach Educator Dana Allen has started making plans to construct a greenhouse to give students of all ages hands-on experience growing food. Since Allen started working with ISU Extension and Outreach, she has always had a passion for teaching kids about growing food. Now, with support from Bayer’s grant, she plans to create a greenhouse where kids can participate in every aspect of gardening, from planning what to plant, to starting seeds, to tending them, to deciding where to donate their harvest. Along the way, Allen also intends to hold cooking classes to show kids how they can turn garden produce into tasty dishes.

Allen feels grateful that Bayer’s support can help her make a dream a reality. “I love teaching gardening and how easy it can be!” she enthused.

With their global focus on improving health and ending hunger, Bayer Site Manager Silvia Malaman took pleasure in backing the project. “I think it makes sense with giving back to our community and educating kids,” she observed.

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