The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, announced this week the award of $800,000 in grants to educators in public schools to develop science, technology, engineering and math education projects all across the Tennessee Valley.
The competitive STEM classroom grant program, operated in partnership with Battelle, received more than 600 grant applications from across TVA’s seven state service territory.
“TVA is committed to supporting STEM education to help develop today’s students into tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and IT professionals,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer. “It’s inspiring to be able to contribute to the innovators of the next generation."
Across the valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further STEM education initiatives in the classroom – both in person and virtual.
“Despite the new challenges Valley teachers 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.”
Among the 197 grant awards is an introduction to healthcare at Cedar Bluff Elementary School in Knoxville." Students will benefit from being introduced at a young age to life saving first aid, emergency response and how to protect themselves from disease," officials said.
“With the need for healthcare providers soaring now more than ever, this grant will also us to spark an interest in healthcare to many future doctors and nurses as early as kindergarten,” said teacher April Lentze.
The grant program provides 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 development and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.
“Thousands of students across the Tennessee Valley will gain access to STEM education experiences through these grants,” said Wes Hall, vice president for Philanthropy and Education at Battelle. “Thanks to TVA and BVI, these students will be better prepared to be the leaders that solve society’s toughest problems.” The Tennessee STEM Innovation Network, managed by Battelle, led outreach to schools for the program.
Another project that received funding is in rural Perry County, Tennessee, where science teacher, Emily Rogers, is excited to now have the resources to teach biology from a distance. “The coronavirus pandemic has placed limitations on our ability to perform traditional labs. Online dissection platforms and lab curriculum will allow students to still be able to learn laboratory practices while following CDC guidelines. Thanks to TVA and BVI, I now have the tools to teach more effectively virtually as well as in person,” said Ms. Rogers.
In Saltillo, Mississippi, the vision of Saltillo High School teacher, Jason Pannell, is to introduce students to the emerging electronic textiles industry. “Electronic textiles are part of electronic components that create systems capable of sensing, heating, lighting or transmitting data,” said Mr. Pannell. “Ultimately, e-textiles will have an important role to play in the fields of medicine, safety and protection.” Students will design, construct and code e-textile kits.
“The projects were all across the STEM spectrum,” said Ms. Crickmar. “It is so impressive to see what teachers across the Valley are doing to prepare the workforce of the future. Through the grants awarded this year, over 72,000 students will be directly impacted across the Valley.”
A full list of the grant recipients can be found at www.tvastem.com.