Office of Environmental Management

Grants Expand STEM Opportunities for Students in Tennessee

February 20, 2018

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The 2017 grant winners gather with URS | CH2M Oak Ridge representatives.
The 2017 grant winners gather with URS | CH2M Oak Ridge representatives.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management cleanup contractor URS | CH2M Oak Ridge is accepting proposals from area schools for grants to fund instructional science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects. 

   For the seventh consecutive year, schools in nearby counties are eligible to submit applications for the grants, which are valued at $500 for a single classroom, $750 for a grade or several classes, and $1,000 for an entire school. 

   The grants equip schools that may otherwise miss educational opportunities. Last year, an elementary school in Philadelphia, Tennessee — a town of approximately 700 people — used a $1,000 grant to purchase a 3-D printer for its STEM class. The students learned that patience, time, creativity, and persistence are needed when designing and creating materials with the printer.

   “It takes time, work, and dedication to create the perfect product,” said Angela Bright White, school administrator. “Actually seeing their work become a tangible object allows students to have a bigger stake in their educational process.”

   The 3-D printing system allows teachers and students to move the creative process from “popsicle sticks to awesome prototypes” that actually work, White added.

   At Dyliss Springs Elementary School in Roane County, principal Jennifer Spakes received a $1,000 grant to help create a STEM materials closet to enable teachers in grades pre-kindergarten to fifth grade transform the classroom into a science lab. 

   “The STEM program requires basic science, math, and technology materials that we are unable to provide to our students,” Spakes wrote in her grant proposal. “Our goal is for our students to be able to answer complex questions, investigate global issues, and develop solutions for challenges and real world problems while applying the rigor of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content in a seamless fashion.”

   Leah Watkins, Roane County director of schools, said the grants encourage an “expansion of opportunities for students and create a great community partnership.”

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