Alcoa Foundation Awards $30,000 Grant to Valadez Middle School Academy

Valadez Middle School Academy’s focus on science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) is receiving a boost thanks to a $30,000 Alcoa Foundation Grant.

With the grant, the school will purchase modules for their Synergistic Lab, an electives lab that is in place at every Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District middle school. In the labs, students conduct simulations of projects in STEM-related fields. The goal is to provide students hands-on experience in exploring various career fields, one of the district’s strategic initiatives.

Valadez Middle School will use this grant to purchase modules related to engines, eco-architecture, future fuels, and sustainable agriculture. For example, students will study future fuels by building cars that use solar power. In the sustainable agriculture module, students will engineer water systems to study water cycles, conservation and run-off control—all issues that impact agriculture and urban life.

“Middle school is about providing a wide variety of opportunities and experiences that give students a glimpse into the future,” said Valadez Middle School Academy Principal Minerva Gandara. “These modules are a hands-on exploration opportunity where they can begin to see that they will be tomorrow’s engineers, scientists, mathematicians and technology developers.”

Ms. Gandara added that Valadez Middle School Academy students matriculate to nearby Valencia High School which is known for the rigorous Val Tech Program which also focuses on the STEM curriculum. By having access to these modules, the eighth grade students interested in applying to the Val Tech program will have a solid foundation and understanding of the Val Tech subject matter.

Valadez Middle School Academy serves 700 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The school’s vision is to create a nationally-recognized academic community focused on rigorous instruction that instills in all students the skills to succeed as life-long learners and responsible citizens who are committed to improving themselves, their community, the country, and the world.

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