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Xcel Energy, an industry leader in using drone technology, is spreading that leadership to Adams County students, thanks to a $2,500 grant. The grant, in partnership with the Five Star Education Foundation, will allow students at STEM Lab School to design, build and fly the unmanned machines.

As a K-8 School serving 450 students in Northglenn, Thornton and across Adams 12 Five Star Schools, STEM Lab provides hands-on, experiential learning that prepares students for 21st century careers.

The grant will be used to purchase drone models that support different learning outcomes: Hubsan Brushless Quadcopters to gather data and teach flight planning, and Flybrix sets that teach the iterative design process, as students rebuild and reconfigure components to solve problems.

The drone curriculum, supported by a $2,500 sponsorship from Xcel Energy – Colorado, will be used in engineering classes and problem-based learning units, according to Tracey Calderon, STEM coordinator for the Lab School. Students in collaborative groups will use the drones to collect and analyze data. They will learn how to approach engineering problems and work through constraints.

“Drones will give students an opportunity to collect data beyond what has been previously possible,” Calderon said. “Students will also have the engineering opportunity to modify drones to fit their purpose.” The project is career-relevant because Xcel Energy leads the utility industry in its deployment of drones, more formally known as unmanned aerial systems. Drones are used to inspect transmission lines, inventory substation equipment and capture other visual data in a safe and efficient way.

The Five Star Education Foundation works closely with Adams 12 Five Star Schools and strong partners in the community, such as Xcel Energy, to support opportunities that inclusively prepare students for a variety of options after high school, ranging from post-secondary education to directly entering the workforce.

“The ultimate goal of the Foundation is to empower students with the confidence and skills to be successful after high school,” said Mary Litwiler, executive director of the foundation.

As part of these investments, the Xcel Energy Foundation’s Focus Area Grants for Education support programs that provide K-12 students with hands-on learning opportunities that demonstrate the linkages between math and science, real-world applications and future careers in STEM fields. Environmental education experiences that foster an ethic of stewardship and conservation are another focus.

The Five Star Education Foundation will award $40,000 to Adams 12 Five Star School’s Northglenn High School for their EC@N-STEM (Early College at Northglenn STEM) program on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. at Northglenn High School, 601 W. 100th Place, Northglenn, CO. The goal of the program is to provide students with the opportunity to earn their high school diploma and associate’s degree from a community college concurrently for free. Students have six years (four in high school and two beyond) to complete their associate’s degree, although many students will complete both degrees in 4-5 years. This program will serve underrepresented students, which may include minorities, females and first to attend college students, giving them opportunities to take challenging, relevant courses and to gain exposure to the workplace.

The funds from the foundation will provide the inaugural freshmen class with open-source and upgraded software, books, online subscriptions and other supplies necessary for rigorous high school and college level coursework.

It is crucial to the success of this program to ensure the costs are minimal if not non-existent to enrolled students. “This contribution will allow us to ensure students remain in the program, removing barriers so we have little attrition over the course of their experience. It also ensures students have access to high quality materials and technology, allowing them to remain competitive”, said Mr. Kerry Glenn, District PTECH-STEM Coordinator.

The ultimate goal of the Five Star Foundation is to empower students with the confidence and skills to be successful in an increasingly competitive market after high school, so this contribution is a perfect match.

“We are so thrilled to be investing in this very innovative program that will provide hands on, real-world experiences so that Adams 12 students are uniquely prepared to compete and succeed after graduation,” said Foundation Executive Director Mary Litwiler.

The Five Star Education Foundation works closely with the Adams 12 School District by forging partnerships and raising money to invest in student success. In collaboration with Adams 12 Five Star Schools and business community, the Foundation supports opportunities that inclusively prepare students for a variety of options after high school, ranging from post-secondary education to directly entering the workforce.


The Five Star Education Foundation is proud to endorse the Adams 12 Five Star School District’s bond proposal 3D.

The passage of 3D will provide much needed funding to:

Improve safety and security in every school buildingExpand career and technical education programsRepair aging schools that are an average of 30 years’ oldExpand and build schools to relieve overcrowding.

The mission of the Foundation is to Invest in Student Success. We believe there is no greater investment at this time than the $350 million investment the district is asking voters for to address student safety and security, overcrowding and critical maintenance needs. This investment, which can be done without a tax rate increase, will provide limitless returns and will insure long-term success for all of our Adams 12 students.

To join the campaign, visit us at

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