Mason Schools Receive $100,000 in Science Grant

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MASON (WILX)-- The Mason School District is $100,000 dollars richer, thanks to a grant from the DART Foundation. The money will go towards the schools Science-Technology-Engineering- and Mathematics program (STEM).

The grant is the largest in the districts history, and will be split into two phases.

The first phase of $67,000 dollars will go towards buying three to four plasma cutters for the high school. The machine is used to cut shapes into wood or metal that is then used to make an object.

"It will allow us to make different parts and things. Our robotics will be be able to make custom parts for our robotics courses," said Mason High School Teacher Ben Shoemaker.

The rest of the money, $23,000 dollars will go towards phase two. Phase two is a mobile lab that can be used at any of the districts elementary schools. The lab will have its own electric plasma cutter.

"We'll use the mobile lab to create interest in our STEM program early on," said Superintendent Mark Dillingham.

The robotics team will be able to work on projects that they could only dream of before. With the new machines they can make anything as simple as a box, to something has hard as a small car.

With the new equipment, there is hope it will spark some interest with new female recruit for the robotics team.

"We found that females tend to be less interested in science and math. We want to make sure we capture the imaginations of our young ladies and we think this is one of the ways to do it," said Dillingham.

"I'm the only girl on the robotics team, so it's been really difficult to get girls to come out because they don't understand." said Senior Laura Karlen.

The equipment is just now being purchased. Dillingham predicts it will be January of 2014 when students will finally get to start using the plasma cutter.

"With this equipment, students looking for a industrial technology career after high school will be ahead of the game when the graduate," said Dillingham.

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