Local schools awarded TVA STEM grants

Local schools awarded TVA STEM grants

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded five schools in the Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (DREMC) service area grants totaling $21,500 for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education projects heavily focused on career and community enrichment. These schools include Culleoka Unit, Battle Creek Elementary and Marvin Wright Elementary schools in Maury County; Cornersville High School in Marshall County; and Decherd Elementary School in Franklin County.

DREMC’s service area includes 38 public schools; five of the seven that submitted grant applications this year received TVA’s STEM project funding.

“The TVA grant program is popular and competitive with more than 290 grant applications submitted to TVA this year,” says DREMC President and CEO Scott Spence. “That’s 50 more applications received over last year’s submissions. We congratulate the five schools in our service area selected as recipients of the funding, and we are pleased that they will be able to further student education.”

The 2020 grants are part of $600,000 in competitive STEM funding awarded to 142 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

“The grant program provides teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000, and preference was given to grant applications that explore TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving,” says Rachel Crickmar, TVA’s community relations program manager. “Schools receiving grant funding must receive power from a TVA distributor like DREMC.”

Across the valley, educators submitted projects large and small to further their STEM and educational initiatives in the classroom.

Culleoka Unit School plans to use their $5,000 grant to enhance studies on alternative energy with wind, structural engineering and technologies, according to Lana George, the school’s math teacher and STEM coach, who works with students in grades 7 through 12. The STEM grant will be used to purchase windmill kits, battery-powered bridge kits, graphing calculators and other teaching tools for the STEM projects.

Battle Creek Elementary School plans to use their $5,000 grant toward 4th grade STEM education projects focused on water storage and collection systems for their garden. Ena Reaves, Battle Creek’s STEM teacher says that students will use a system of barrels to collect rainwater for the plants they grow; work with cafeteria staff to apply basic composting concepts; use fertilized “worm tea” to help nourish the plants; and experiment with bee-free pollination.

Marvin Wright Elementary received a $1,500 grant and plans to introduce “Gardening in the 21st Century: Leading the Way in Food Security Solutions.” The school is using raised gardening beds, rain collection barrels and cafeteria staff, who will help with the composting effort, to assist with their gardening project. Elementary students plan to grow an assortment of vegetables, including leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and possibly pumpkins for the fall. “Students will also get to eat the vegetables they grow,” says Connie Holland, project-based learning coach and STEM teacher.

Cornersville High School received a $5,000 grant, which they will use for applied math acceleration. According to Earl Leonard, high school math teacher, Cornersville’s applied math class teaches students about personal finance, budgeting and how to track business profits and losses. Leonard also plans for students to learn other real-world financial basics like running a personal business and planning for cost of living increases. He says the grant will help purchase books and needed supplies for the class.

Abigail Hinds, a Cornersville High School senior enrolled in the applied math class, says, “My favorite part of the class has been learning how to budget. Many of us work part-time jobs, so we’re learning how to spend our money wisely and how to focus on saving. This class helps us know the difference between wants and needs.”

Decherd Elementary School will use their $5,000 grant to further STEM education with an outdoor tree house. According to Amber Steele, 4th grade teacher, students will be directly involved and receive hands-on learning as they design and build the tree house planned for the school’s front yard later this year. She says students will get to play and learn in the tree house during the school year and hopes to expand the tree house and how it serves the students over the years to follow.

“This is the second year such grants have been offered to schools served by TVA power distributors,” says Spence. “There is a demand in the Valley for workforce development through STEM education, and I am pleased at the way TVA and its retirees are responding to that demand by supporting teachers and students in the classrooms.”

“Each of the five schools in DREMC’s area have creative plans to inspire students through STEM education,” adds Spence. “Now, after receiving these grants, we’re looking forward to seeing the impact the schools’ projects have.”

A full list of the grant recipients can be found at www.tvastem.com.

In the photo are Culleoka Unit School students and, from left, TVA’s Bethany Kitch; Lana George, math teacher and STEM coach; and Michael Trew, DREMC’s Columbia district manager.

In the photo with 4th grade students of Battle Creek Elementary are, from left, TVA’s Bethany Kitch; Suzie Estes, assistant principal, Ena Reaves, STEM teacher; Laura Duncan, principal; and Michael Trew, DREMC’s Columbia district manager.

Pictured with Marvin Wright Elementary students are, from left, Michael Trew, DREMC’s Columbia district manager; Marisa Massey, principal; Connie Holland, STEM teacher and project-based learning coach; Melissa Joslin, project-based learning coach and 3rd grade teacher; and TVA’s Bethany Kitch.

In the photo with senior Cornersville High School students are, from left, Troy Crowell, DREMC’s Lewisburg district manager; Joy McMasters, assistant principal; TVA’s Melissa Halsell; Brent Adcox, principal; and Earl Leonard, math teacher.

In the photo are Decherd Elementary School 4th grade students with, from left, Patrick Hannah, DREMC’s Decherd district manager; Amber Steele, 4th grade teacher; Chris Hawkersmith, principal; and TVA’s Melissa Halsell.