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Select county schools receive STEM grants

Sulphur Springs Elementary School received a $5,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority.


The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded Sulphur Springs School, $5,000 for a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education project.

The grant award is a part of $580,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 161 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

“The planned project provides hands-on experience using technology, science investigation equipment, and support materials that will allow students hands on experience in a water quality study,” said, Diana O’Neal, middle school science teacher at Sulphur Springs. “Students will be actively involved in collecting data for the study and developing plans to restore and maintain a healthy waterway. The project is intended to be a yearly event that increases understanding of the effect that our community has on a local stream and provide awareness of how the river that provides water for the community is impacted.”

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

The project Sulphur Springs School submitted will ask seventh and eighth grade students to participate in a problem-based learning unit to determine the health of a creek located near the school and consider solutions to share in a culminating project presentation. The STEM study focuses on the importance of maintaining water quality by researching pollution causes, actual testing of the creek for water quality, and developing solutions to keep the water source healthy. Students will collect data using stream study investigation kits to record information such as pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and stream flow.  Specimens will be collected and used to determine the health of the creek using data on macro-invertebrate populations. Results of their findings will be shared with the student population and the community.

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. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“The goal of the program was to help further STEM education across the valley,” said Rachel Crickmar, TVA Community Relations Program Manager. “We knew this program would be popular and competitive and now we’re are looking forward to seeing the impact these projects have.”

South Central students will soon join David Crockett on a STEM project thanks to TVA.

David Crockett High School received $750 for a STEM education project as well.

The project David Crockett High School submitted, in collaboration with South Central Elementary, is to perform cross-curricular STEM projects. Both high school and elementary participants will research about food deserts, careers, and developing an aquaponics system.

Students will compare hydroponics and aquaponics using a Socratic seminar. High school participants will become experts of a 20-gallon aquaponics system. During the first collaboration, high school students will teach photosynthesis, nitrogen cycle, and assist in developing an aquaponics system with the elementary students. Both groups will collect data pertaining to nitrites, nitrates, ammonia, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and height of plants with their own systems. Both groups will engage in asking questions, defining problems, analyzing data, developing models, construct explanations, evaluating and communicating information.  The students will bridge communication during the project using Google Docs. During a second collaborative visit, they will discuss the STEM project and deliver presentations. In conclusion, the students will write an essay on how their local community could implement a large scale aquaponics system in relation to STEM careers.

Peggy Wright, Principal of David Crockett, said, she is “looking forward to the partnership and experience our students will have to work together on this cross-curricular project.”