Manatee County students could be on the path to becoming the next Steve Wozniak.
A state budget agreed upon by the House and Senate includes $950,000 for a pilot program focused on science, technology, engineering and math. Rep. Will Robinson, a Bradenton Republican, said that will fund a first-in-Florida program at Palm View K-8 School.
The program will be put on the Woz Pathways curriculum promoted by Woz Ed, an education founded by Wozniak, the Apple co-founder and Silicon Valley celebrity.
In his funding appropriations request (HB 3685), Robinson said the program will prepare K-12 students “for 21st century careers and teachers with 21st century training and technology through the creation of ‘career pathways’ for all K-12 students using innovative public-private partnerships. These partnerships are an effective and cost-efficient method by which school districts and the state can meet the growing, unmet need for these critical educational opportunities on a scale that can demonstrate ROI to the taxpayers.”
Woz Ed officials said the Palm View program specifically will educate youth on career paths in cybersecurity, drone piloting, maintenance and repair, engineering design, coding, and mobile development.
The Palmetto school is one of a handful of campuses in the country involved with Woz Ed. Wozniak himself announced the partnership in 2019.
“The world needs inventors, great ones,” he said in an announcement video. “If your learners love what they do and are willing to do what it takes, it’s within their reach, and it will be worth every minute they spend alone at night thinking and thinking about what it is they want to design or build. It will be worth it, I promise.”
Since the school adopted a focus on STEM, Robinson said the school has made huge leaps in the quality of education provided. He noted that from 2018 to 2019, the school’s grade with the Department of Education rose from a D to an A. The school notably was failing as recently as 2015.
The $950,000 is one-time funding this year.