Maryville Awarded Monsanto Fund Grant to Increase STEM Diversity

$120,000 Grant Supports CREST-M Summer Robotics Program

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Today’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce is no more diverse than in 2001. With a $120,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund, Maryville University hopes to help close that gap by engaging young females, minority students, and students from low-income areas with STEM curriculum utilizing robotics.

The grant marks the second consecutive year Maryville University has been awarded a Monsanto Fund grant to host CREST-M (Children using Robotics for Engineering, Science, Technology and Math) on campus. The program engages diverse students in real-world problem solving, provides hands-on professional development for teachers, and concludes with curriculum evaluation.

This summer, 80 students from two partnering public school districts—Ferguson-Florissant and Ritenour—along with 16 of their teachers, will participate in CREST-M. Through the program, Maryville educators work with fifth grade teachers to evaluate CREST-M’s innovative math curriculum using LEGO WeDo robotics. Teachers will return to their districts with a set of robots to use in class, and the curriculum to improve STEM outcomes for their students in years to come.

“CREST-M is a nexus of what we expect kids today will need for success in the 21st century: Creative use of technology, a strong background in math and science, and processes for problem-solving,” said Steve Coxon, PhD, associate professor at Maryville University. “The students get so engaged by the unit’s storyline and use of robotics, they don’t even realize they’re learning math and science.”

“Students decide whether to pursue a STEM career well before attending college, often while they’re in middle school,” said Michelle Insco, Monsanto Fund program officer. “This collaboration with Maryville University will help students envision themselves as problem solvers while also providing valuable resources to the teachers who dedicate themselves to enriching their lives.”

The curriculum is expected to be published and distributed in order to sustain the project financially and provide professional development into the future.


About the Monsanto Fund

The philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, the Monsanto Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the communities where farm families and Monsanto Company employees live and work. Learn more at

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