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STEM Program

Two fifth-grade students disassemble a computer.
District 196 offers innovative and robust STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) experiences for all students.
Beginning with our youngest learners, our Pre-K STEM Pathway programming provides hands-on opportunities through exploratory play. Our curriculum focuses on students’ engagement and skills from the earliest grades and exposes them to the exciting world of science, technology, engineering, and math. Dedicated and knowledgeable educators work alongside students to grow their proficiency levels and demonstrate how these skills are used everyday in every subject, every class and every career.
We believe a comprehensive STEM education includes a strong emphasis on hands-on, experiential and inquiry-based student experiences and activities. This helps build a foundation on which they can expand their learning and readies them for success through high school and beyond. 


Paul Olson,
Teaching and Learning Coordinator for STEM Programs


Award-Winning STEM Education

District 196 is a national leader in STEM education and incorporates a "STEM For All" philosophy. The extraordinary efforts of our schools are regularly honored with prestigious awards and set the standard for STEM education. Both our students and staff have been recognized by state and national organizations for their innovative contributions. Recent awards include:

  • Cedar Park- Magnet Schools of America 2020 School of Excellence and winner of a 2018 PBS National Science Foundation Award for their "STEM for All" video featuring their efforts to get more girls involved in STEM activities
  • Echo Park- Magnet Schools of America 2020 School of Distinction
  • Valley Middle School of STEM- 2018 winners of The Stock Market Game (elementary division, Minnesota) and Principal Dave McKeag was named 2018 Principal of the Year by Minnesota Association of Secretaries to the Principals
  • Apple Valley High School- 2019 STEM Excellence Award in the high school category by Future of Technology Education 

Pre-K STEM Pathway

District 196 is a national leader in STEM education and incorporates a "STEM For All" philosophy. We established a Pre-K STEM Pathway at our four STEM-focused magnet schools. From an early age, students learn the importances of researching, experimenting, analyzing and critical thinking. We believe the classes offered in this pathway are more than just curriculum, but rather an innovative approach to learning in the 21st century.

Students following the STEM Pathway begin their journey at either Cedar Park Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School or Echo Park School or Leadership, Engineering and Technology. They continue their learning at Valley Middle School of STEM, followed by an immersive and rigorous educational experience at Apple Valley High School.

A robot is in the foreground with three boys in the background controlling the robot.

Cedar Park Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) School

Cedar Park students learn to use scientific, technological and mathematical principles in real-life applications. Cedar Park STEM School strives to be a national leader in delivering STEM instruction. Our great school is comprised of hard working students and dedicated staff. We value our partnerships with families and are grateful to our volunteer community, all of whom help our school achieve excellence. Explore our website >

An Echo Park Elementary student works on a computer.

Echo Park School of Leadership, Engineering and Technology

Echo Park is an inclusive learning environment where students are empowered to explore, create and lead. Echo Park’s mission is to build a strong academic foundation, develop leadership qualities and strengthen skills and mindsets for successful lifelong learning. Students will experience rigorous and relevant hands-on STEM opportunities that enhance problem-solving, critical and creative thinking skills, and their ability to work with others. Explore our website >

Superintendent Mary Keger talks with a female student at Valley Middle School about a STEM course.

Valley Middle School of STEM

Valley Middle School of STEM educates a global community of innovative thinkers through hands-on learning. We take pride in our efforts to ensure rigorous and relevant coursework and building positive relationships with all students. We are a diverse community of engaged learners! Students cultivate their natural curiosity in a collaborative setting. The curriculum is constantly evolving to include cutting-edge educational technology while remaining comprehensive. Science, math and engineering are balanced with the humanities, visual and performing arts. Explore our website >

Two Apple Valley High School boys work on constructing a mini drone.

Apple Valley High School

Apple Valley High School is a state and nationally recognized high school offering something for all, including a rigorous curriculum, award-winning arts programs and championship athletic teams. Our fabrication lab and science, technology, engineering and math focus emphasizes critical thinking, creativity, innovation and real-world problem-solving that prepare students for post-secondary education and careers in high-demand STEM-related fields.

Our educational community is committed to challenging all individuals to realize their potential as learners by providing high quality and diverse opportunities for intellectual, emotional and physical growth. STEM education has become increasingly popular. And 2014 District 196 received a $2.99 million federal grant from the Department of Labor to transform our school to provide a dedicated science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focus over four years. Explore our website >