The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, announced this week the award of $800,000 in grants to educators in public schools to develop STEM projects all across the Tennessee Valley. 140 awards were made to Tennessee schools totaling $561,550 through TVA’s partnership with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. Crockett County High School and Crockett County Middle School (CCMS) were listed as local recipients with Gibson Electric Membership Corporation being the local power distributor.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, announced this week the award of $800,000 in grants to educators in public schools to develop science, technology, engineering, and math education projects all across the Tennessee Valley.
The competitive STEM classroom grant program, operated in partnership with Battelle , received more than 600 grant applications from across TVA’s seven state service territory. The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, managed by Battelle, recruited educators for the project.
“TVA’s commitment to education hasn’t wavered over the last year, and we are proud to continue to partner with educators across the valley to support STEM education in schools,” said Jeanette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “The types of projects teachers are developing shows their deep commitment to STEM education, and this program shows our commitment to them and the next generation.”
Across the valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further STEM education initiatives in the classroom – both in person and virtual.
Lauren Marchbanks and Julia Adams applied for the grant for their seventh grade science students in October. They received an approval in December.
CCMS students are currently staying in one classroom all day making it harder for science teachers to provide the hands on learning they would normally receive in a strictly science classroom. The grant will allow the seventh grade classrooms to receive two hydroponic gardens each.
“STEM is a more hands on learning experience and this will help,” said Marchbanks. “We really want these kids to have a background and interest in science because it is necessary.”
The class has received a grant that allowed them to have pets in the classrooms and have already began seeing the benefits of having this available to students. “Hopefully the kids will feel pretty accomplished by the end of the semester,” said Marchbanks.
“Despite the new challenges Valley teachers faced in 2020, they are still focused on providing the best STEM education possible and have adjusted to new ways of teaching,” said Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “I am proud of the partnerships we have built with these amazing educators across the Tennessee Valley over the past few years and are pleased to be able to provide some support through this program.”
Among the 195 grant awards is an introduction to healthcare at Cedar Bluff Elementary School in Knoxville, Tennessee. Students will benefit from being introduced at a young age to life saving first aid, emergency response, and how to protect themselves from disease. “With the need for healthcare providers soaring now more than ever, this grant will also us to spark an interest in healthcare to many future doctors and nurses as early as kindergarten,” said teacher April Lentze.
The grant program provides teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000, and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development , and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.
“Thousands of students across the Tennessee Valley will gain access to STEM education experiences through these grants,” said Wes Hall, vice president for Philanthropy and Education at Battelle. “Thanks to TVA and BVI, these students will be better prepared to be the leaders that solve society’s toughest problems.” The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, managed by Battelle, led outreach to schools for the program.
Another project that received funding is in rural Perry County, Tennessee, where science teacher, Emily Rogers, is excited to now have the resources to teach biology from a distance. “The coronavirus pandemic has placed limitations on our ability to perform traditional labs. Online dissection platforms and lab curriculum will allow students to still be able to learn laboratory practices while following CDC guidelines. Thanks to TVA and BVI, I now have the tools to teach more effectively virtually as well as in person.”
In Saltillo, Mississippi, the vision of Saltillo High School teacher, Jason Pannell, is to introduce students to the emerging electronic textiles industry. “Electronic textiles are part of electronic components that create systems capable of sensing, heating, lighting or transmitting data,” said Pannell. “Ultimately, e-textiles will have an important role to play in the fields of medicine, safety and protection.” Students will design, construct, and code e-textile kits.
“The projects were all across the STEM spectrum,” said Crickmar. “It is so impressive to see what teachers across the Valley are doing to prepare the workforce of the future. Through the grants awarded this year, over 72,000 students will be directly impacted across the Valley.”
The seventh grade students have already completed their cell studies and utilized household items to create their own cell. In the coming months, Marchbanks and Adams are optimistic about doing pig and frog dissection in February or March.
“We are doing the best we can and have added in some extra stuff,” said Marchbanks. “ We are trying to keep our kids engaged and excited to be in school. This grant really helps with that.”