Knob Noster schools receive $2.25 million DoDEA grant, benefitting military children Published Dec. 13, 2018 By Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is awarding a $2.25 million grant to enhance the STEM2 and robotics programs, and introduce a virtual academy in the Knob Noster School District, where two-thirds of the 1,600 students are connected to Whiteman Air Force Base. On Dec. 10, 2018, Whiteman AFB, located in Knob Noster, Missouri, hosted a presentation ceremony to officially announce the grant and recognize the efforts of the students, faculty, volunteers, and parents, who gathered in an airplane hangar on base to hear the news together. “This morning is about you,” said Brig. Gen. John Nichols, the 509th Bomb Wing commander, at the ceremony. “Education is a readiness challenge and when you have strong schools next to military installations, they work hand in hand to ensure the success of the mission.” The DoDEA grant will go toward four key areas: Enhance the Leader in Me program, which empowers students with the leadership and life-skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Extend the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs with computer science and cyber security courses. Expand the high school FIRST LEGO League Robotics and elementary and middle school FIRST LEGO League Junior Robotics programs. Develop a new Knob Noster Virtual Academy to offer a diverse selection of online courses for grades 7-12 and leadership development programs for grades K-12. “When we put opportunities like this in front of our students, they step up and rise to the occasion,” said Jerrod Wheeler, the superintendent of the Knob Noster School District. For example, last fall the Stealth Panther Robotics 6424 Team partnered with Whiteman AFB to design and produce an Air Force-approved piece of equipment for the cockpit of the B-2 Spirit. “Seventy-two hours after the initial design concept, the robotics team 3-D printed a cover for four important switches in the $2.2 billion aircraft,” Nichols said. “We are flying with it today at Whiteman Air Force Base and I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with this group” of students. Whiteman AFB is just one of many military installations that rely on surrounding public schools to educate military children. The DoDEA grant program’s purpose is to support research-based strategies that enhance student achievement and help ease the challenges that come with being a military child.