Grant Partnership Aims to Increase Diversity in STEM fields


[St. Louis, Mo.]—Women, minorities, and those from low-income areas have traditionally been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Through a new grant partnership, Maryville University and Monsanto Fund will address this problem by sparking student interest in the career fields from an early age.

Maryville University has been awarded a one-year, $124,995 Monsanto Fund Grant for a new program called Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology and Math (CREST-M). The funding allows Maryville educators to create an innovative math curriculum for 3rd and 4th graders using LEGO WeDo robotics.

“We want to create something for high-poverty districts that increases interest in, ability for, and knowledge of STEM fields,” says Steven Coxon, PhD, assistant professor of education at Maryville. “Both Maryville and Monsanto Fund understand that it’s important we produce innovators right here at home.”

Maryville educators will develop the CREST-M curriculum this spring. Eighty students and 18 teachers from the Ferguson-Florissant and Ritenour school districts will participate in the two-week program in July. Maryville educators will use test and control groups to demonstrate that children who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields make similar gains as other students when properly engaged in learning.

“One of the problems with the way math is often taught is that just a workbook is used,” says Coxon. “In this case, the students will learn math in a much more engaging and motivating way. It is very hands-on, integrated learning.”

Maryville plans to make the curriculum available nationwide. Publication sales will help defray the costs of ongoing professional development for participating teachers.


About Maryville University
As a private, independent university, Maryville enrolls nearly 6,000 students and offers more than 75 degrees at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. Maryville has forged its outstanding reputation based on academic outcomes, small classes, individualized student attention, and academic excellence.

About the Monsanto Fund
The Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farmers and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Visit the Monsanto Fund at