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SLU High Expands STEM Initiative to Normandy Schools 

BEL-NOR, MO -- Students at Bel-Nor School in the Normandy Schools Collaborative are participating in an innovative partnership with St. Louis University High School.

For the first time, Normandy fourth and fifth graders participated in the Clavius Project, a collaboration between the district and SLUH, which trains, mentors and supports urban middle school students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas. 

Dr. Vivian Johnson, math lead at Bel-Nor School, says the partnership helps address a critical need in this area of study.

“The Clavius Project is a great program that connects students to STEM by providing teacher professional development, skilled volunteers, STEM resources like laptops, robots and 3D printers at a ratio allowing each student to participate,” said Johnson. “The project is preparing students for jobs that have not even been created yet. Students need the coding and technology skills to be prepared for the 21st Century workforce.”

The Clavius Project looks to help train future STEM professionals by working with underrepresented groups and exposing them to future opportunities in the field. 

The Clavius Project began in 2014 as a collaboration among students, faculty and staff to bring STEM education to St. Louis city Catholic schools and has now expanded to public school districts like Normandy, Riverview Gardens, Jennings, and St. Louis Public Schools. Named after Christopher Clavius — a German Jesuit mathematician and astronomer responsible for the Gregorian Calendar as well as the first in the Church to confirm his former student Galileo's Heliocentric Theory of the universe — the program has achieved considerable success and momentum in eight years. 

Dr. Johnson worked closely with Clavius Project moderator Jeff Pitts, a successful local engineer, and Lucas Navarro, SLU High School mentor who helped facilitate the Clavius Project at Bel-Nor School. 

Through this collaboration, Bel-Nor students participated in the MICDS First Lego League Qualifier through a STEM Champion partnership with Maryville University last December, with the culminating event being The Clavius Project Jamboree at SLU High School in April. Bel-Nor fourth and fifth graders participated alongside middle schoolers from other districts in the area.

This year the Clavius Project received $612,000 from the Thomas R. Schilli Foundation. SLU High School and Saint Louis University will now collaborate to transform educational pathways for area youth including those from the Normandy Schools Collaborative, which will be one of the first Clavius Plus Partners. Mentor students from SLU High School will continue to help with after school STEM programs in Normandy, and Saint Louis University students will mentor, tutor, and facilitate enrichment programs for students at all grade levels in not only STEM, but health, athletics, business, and humanities. 

This collaboration will lead to summer programs and college scholarships for Normandy Schools Collaborative students. For more information, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNzPTPkvt7w or the SLUH website: https://www.sluh.org/student-life/co-curriculars/clavius-project