OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Oak Ridge’s cleanup contractor is awarding $40,000 in grants for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects that benefit 29 schools across a nine-county region.
Since launching the grants program in 2012, UCOR has given more than $300,000 in grants to local schools to support education, heighten awareness about STEM fields and help develop the next-generation workforce.
UCOR’s environmental cleanup work relies heavily on workers in STEM fields. The company’s cleanup workforce of more than 2,100 people includes a large number of STEM professionals: chemical operators, electricians, engineers, industrial hygienists, nurses, project managers, radiation control technicians, and more.
The company increased the dollar amounts for the three grant award categories this year. They are now $750 for individual classroom projects, $1,000 for multi-classroom projects and $1,500 for whole school projects.
This year, the contractor awarded grants for 36 projects across elementary, middle and high schools with titles such as “Building Engineers Through Play,” “Robotics and Coding in Middle School” and “Beyond the Water Cycle: The Power of Water in Our World.”
Katie Lusk, a kindergarten and first grade teacher at Knoxville Jewish Day School, said she was able to purchase many supplies for her project, “We Soar When We Explore.”
The project provided a lesson in which students used their social and emotional learning skills in a collaborative project. Students find new ways to work on their creations throughout the year, providing continued lessons in the classroom.
“The grant items I have received enhance our learning so much and impact students year after year,” Lusk said.
Margie Branstetter, a kindergarten teacher at Petros Joyner School in Oliver Springs, is grateful for the grants and their impact on her students. She says her students are engaged, communicating and learning with her “Blast Off to STEM” grant.
“This grant has made a big difference in my classroom, and I am always thinking of items that can build STEM and the students’ eagerness to learn,” Branstetter said. “UCOR has been a positive influence with my students and made my job more enjoyable.”
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