November 2022

Our SMILE students from West Warwick High School were fortunate enough to spend a beautiful day at the Norman Bird Sanctuary and Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge. Norman Bird Sanctuary is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary and environmental education center with more than 300 acres of diverse habitats and 7 miles of well-maintained hiking trails with a diversity of plants. There is a variety of wildlife, including local and migratory birds, depending on the season. Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge is one of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island. The land totals 42 acres that provide a resting point for migrating birds. The students were able to explore, bird watch, and learn the importance of protecting diverse habitats and wildlife.

SMILE Executive Director Carol Englander visited the South Kingstown High School SMILE club led by SKHS teachers Mike Lobdell (science) and Reed Fraser (math).  The students were having a first quarter report card celebration and enjoying special snacks.  Afterwards, the students started making a small electronic bristlebot robot. It detects strong light using light sensors which sends current to motors that make it move.  Connections are through a breadboard.  Quite a hands on challenge! 

New SMILE Grants for 2022-2023

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

SMILE is pleased to report that we have received a Community Action Grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).  This grant (the first we have received from AAUW), entitled “Propelling Girls Futures in STEM, The SMILE Program” will help fund SMILE at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

Women have historically been the minority in the STEM workplace.  Currently about 61% of SMILE participants are girls and, with the assistance provided by this grant, we are working to increase the number of girls who will graduate from Rhode Island high schools well prepared to enter college and pursue STEM careers.

Ocean State Charities Trust 

The SMILE Program is very happy to announce that we have been awarded a grant from Ocean State Charities Trust entitled “SMILE’S STEM in Action Annual Events 2023”.  

This grant provides funding for the Middle School Engineering Challenge scheduled for March 31 and the Elementary Outdoor Science Adventure on April 28. Both events are held at URI, and mentors from URI faculty, students, and industry help to make these wonderful on-campus events even more meaningful. Students work in mixed teams assembled from different schools, learning valuable collaboration and teamwork skills.  They eat in the URI dining halls and interact with a diversity of students from around the world. The message is clear to these SMILE students that they too can be a future URI student.

The Nordson Foundation 

The SMILE Program is delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from The Nordson Foundation entitled ”Propelling the Future of an Equitable STEM Generation”. 

This years’ SMILE curriculum will expose students and teachers to various engineering fields and new STEM experiences, making connections between STEM and its use in everyday life.  Associated activities include career-oriented field-trips, teachers’ professional development, and annual events. The 2022-23 SMILE program will teach the youth of today, and the future workforce of tomorrow, the value of science literacy and STEM skills in the modern world. The goals of this project are to increase the knowledge and interest in STEM amongst minority, BIPOC and educationally disadvantaged students.