The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in partnership with Gibson Electric Membership Corporation (GEMC) and Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, recently awarded Crockett County High School (CCHS) and Crockett County Middle School (CCMS) grant awards totaling $6500 for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education projects.
The grant award is a part of $800,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to nearly 200 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory. “Project-based learning is the rising educational methodology in STEM education,” said Karen Cavaness, Computer Science Teacher. “The addition of the programmable drones provides our students with greater opportunity to develop their programming skills applicable to future educational pursuits and careers.”
Across the valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further their STEM education initiatives in the classroom. The project CCHS submitted will allow the Computer Science Programming focus area the opportunity to add drones to the curriculum. Drone Patrol is the third phase of incorporating robotics and programming into the STEM Computer Programming classes providing students with real life applicable skills relative to careers available in West Tennessee. As a rural agricultural community, drones are becoming a tool for farmers’ daily work lives. Drones have the power to create real time data through digital photography and videography. Additionally, the Tello Quadcopter has the ability to allow the video to be viewed in Virtual Reality format. The students will gain real drone flying skills and be able to navigate an obstacle course. They will also create images and videos and demonstrate file management skills. The drones are programmable, and the students will demonstrate and improve their programming skills as well. An added benefit for the STEM program will be increased interest in the program and cross-curricular activities with other classes both academic and technical.
The TVA grant for $1,500 to CCMS allowed Lauren Marchbanks to purchase 19 hydroponic gardens, two for each seventh grade classroom, with one extra, as well as herb seeds. Each garden was planted with a variety of herbs that would grow quickly and allow the use of plants in the classroom for the remainder of the school year. Seventh grade students will be asked to observe plants on several occasions as they cover the Tennessee science standards. Some of the labs conducted in class using the hydroponic garden will include: microscope slide preparation to view cells, food coloring added to water to view the transport properties of plants, plastic caps placed over the plants to view the effects of evaporation and the Law of Conservation, observing plants as the subject of genetics and adaptations discussion, as well as the observation of our small ecosystem for discussion on climate change and the effects of the environment on plant life, and more has been planned for the hydroponic gardens in class as the year progresses. It is the hope that by observing the growth of plants in the classroom, students will gain a better understanding of the role plants play in an ecosystem and might spark their interest in environmental science.
The competitive grant program provided 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 as well as pandemic related projects. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.
“Despite the new challenges Valley teacher’s 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. Through the grants awarded this year, over 72,000 students will be directly impacted across the Valley.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.