By Hannah Caver, Staff Writer
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville City Schools Foundation (TCSF) presented grants to the schools in the TCS school zone.
Teachers proposed different projects in the area that would allow students an opportunity to grow and learn in the classrooms.
Magnolia Elementary received two grants.
1. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Rebecca Bishop for “STEMify Reading and Writing with STEM Lit Kits.”
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Lit Kits will take research, reading, and writing to a whole new level. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs are projected to grow 8.8 percent. Because of this growth, Bishop stated educators must provide students with numerous engaging learning opportunities to develop an interest in the areas of STEM-related fields of study. The STEM Lit Kits will include habitat/imagination pre-writing, Little Inventors, architecture/design, LEGO Bricks, counting money, alphabet letters, patterns, and shape-making.
STEM Lit Kits will strengthen skills; such as problem-solving, creativity, inquiry, math, science, engineering, design, critical thinking, and collaboration. Furthermore, STEM Lit Kits will provide opportunities for students at Magnolia to engage in hands-on, challenging, out-of-the-box learning experiences that will help foster ingenuity, build resilience, encourage experimentation and teamwork, and generate within students an appreciation and enthusiasm for STEM-related fields of study. Throughout the implementation of STEM Lit Kis, the following will be analyzed: circulation statistics and data, photos, student surveys, staff surveys, conferences, and observations. More specifically, Bishop will evaluate the success of this project by using pre and post-surveys to pinpoint specific areas of STEM growth in students and tracking usage of kits to determine trends in STEM learning, engagement, and excitement throughout the school.
2. A grant of $1,100 was awarded to Lauren Long for “ECO Design & Sustainability in STEM Lab.”
All students in grades K-5 STEM Specials classes will design and construct models of environmentally friendly modular architectural designs with Arckit’s reusable components while learning about what goes into building a modern, sustainable, and energy-efficient home.
Students will complete research about existing sustainable architecture, design structures based on specific needs of the environment, climate, and other constraints for the proposed project, demonstrate understanding of sustainable design terminology create presentations to demonstrate and share their learning with others, complete a pre and post-project questionnaire, demonstrating what they have learned, and rate their interest levels in the design process.
Cahaba Elementary received eight grants.
1. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Angela Shorter for “Collaborative Encounters in Kindergarten.”
This grant will establish an interactive, engaging, hands-on space (Makerspace/STEM/STEAM corner) in Shorter’s kindergarten classroom where students can work collaboratively to communicate, design, create, test, learn, explore, and share ideas. This space will include technology, manipulatives, art supplies, writing materials, etc. Students will learn to operate this space independently to create planned and unplanned projects.
Shorter stated they will also utilize coding skills. Initially, this will be whole group learning as students are introduced to the “tools” in the area and the process of designing, coding, testing, and retesting. Once students have a grasp of the process, they will be assigned times to work in the station independently and/or with small groups.
2. A grant of $905 was awarded to Misty Moore for “Amazing Authors.”
This project will provide each child in 5th grade, ninety-one students, with a hard copy of their own published book. The students will be allowed to share their published book with other classrooms and students as well as family members and friends. There will be opportunities for students to have an author signing, as well as record themselves, reading the book. The excitement and motivation from this activity will be contagious throughout our school building.
Moore stated in Cahaba, students are encouraged to read and for the most part, thoroughly enjoy reading. Teachers will see students not only increase in reading, but writing abilities, too as they begin to write in a way that will allow them to share their writing in endless ways
3. A grant for $1,500 was awarded to Porshia Franklin for “Cahaba Creation Station.”
The purpose of this grant is to provide a space at Cahaba Elementary School where students across all grade levels have the opportunity to explore, tinker, create, learn, and explore in a space that promotes critical and creative thinking skills. With the demands of a growing technologically and career-focused society, students should have the opportunity to create and explore in spaces that motivate them to learn in ways that mimic career professionals.
Franklin stated the Cahaba Creation Station is the crucial next step that students of Cahaba Elementary School need to build relationships with career professionals within our community and simultaneously learn and explore through a higher level, depths of knowledge across all academic fields of study.
4. A grant for $360 was awarded to Sara Wessell for “Presentation Skills to enhance learning and workplace success.”
Students will work to make sense of the materials, plan a demonstration, and present the information both live and to a virtual audience. Students who can teach a concept demonstrate an internalization of the concept. Utilizing the requested science demonstration kits students will be trained in the skill of public presentation and leading of instruction.
Wessell stated hands-on exploration is most certainly a powerful way for students to interact and learn about scientific concepts; however, when that experience is not feasible, teachers have found that lively, engaging presentation of scientific information allows an entry point into complex scientific concepts, paving the way for rich discussion and understanding.
5. A grant for $800 was awarded to Lisa Rish for “Story STEM.”
This project will integrate literature and STEM. Students engage in STEM exploration based on problems that they identify in their reading. After reading a story in the literature curriculum students will go through a four-part process. They will 1.) Identify the problem. (ex. design a new house for the 3 little pigs, create a cap holder, design a safer way to climb a beanstalk, etc) 2.) Apply grade-level appropriate math and science concepts, 3.) Develop an engineering design and finally 4.) Create and test a prototype design. Students will develop their understanding of STEM being used to solve real-world problems.
Rish stated that thinking critically and creatively will prepare students to be future leaders. Students also will be making a deeper connection to the literature while going through this process.
6. A grant for $1,500 was awarded to April Smith for “Engineering Genius.”
Engineering Genius is a sixteen-week engineering unit where 5th-grade students will participate in six engineering centers each lasting two to three weeks. Centers will have a challenge that students must solve within a specific field of engineering. This unit is designed to support the district engineering programs.
Smith stated that this unit will get kids excited about engineering with hands-on projects in environments where they are free to express their creativity and feel comfortable taking academic risks. Students will learn real-world engineering skills and experience how using these skills makes a difference in the world.
7. A grant for $1,305 was awarded to Amy Prickett for “Reading Robots.”
Reading Robots is an innovative project for all students in grades 3rd through 5th. Students will engage collaboratively in teams of four to create a robot over the course of six weeks. Each grade level will produce a different robot based on its unique science standards. 3rd grade will construct a robot that draws pictures utilizing the standards of motion and stability. 4th grade will use knowledge about electrical energy, mechanical energy, and friction to assemble a robot that crawls. And 5th grade will investigate the standard of human and earth interactions to build a mechanical claw robot. All students will engage in the engineering design process and most importantly learn to persevere through challenges.
Prickett stated that to help students find motivation through these challenges, each lesson will begin with a book read aloud. These books are chosen to illustrate and inspire students to work as a team, develop character, see themselves through diverse characters, and learn about important people in science and innovation. Reading Robots is a project that helps learners of all types find success in teamwork, reading, science, technology, engineering, writing, and speaking.
8. A grant for $1,100 was awarded to Tina Fortenberry for “Jammin’ with Tech.”
“Jammin’ with Tech” will be a way to help students learn to play musical instruments and create music collaboratively in an innovative way. Several apps will be purchased which will allow students in grades Kindergarten through 5th the opportunity to experience and learn to play several instruments at school.
Fortenberry stated that the “Jammin’ with Tech” centers will include: piano keyboards with headphones, ukuleles, guitars, music mixing/looping, and composing stations. All “Jammin’ with Tech” centers will have iPads loaded with the apps which Fortenberry will purchase with funds from this grant. This will allow students to take charge of their own learning as Fortenberry guides them through the wonders of music.
Paine Elementary received four grants.
1. A grant for $1,500 was awarded to Taylor Knuppel for “SpecDrums of Sound.”
“SpecDrums” is a unique device that is used to program sounds and pitches through the use of rings and sound mats. The rings slide on the pointer finger of each hand. The sound mats resemble a piano, except each “key” is a different color of the rainbow. SpecDrums are a great tool for students to learn how to program sounds, how to use loops and tracks, and compose their own songs. Students will learn about audio engineering and how sounds can be programmed through different software. Students will also learn vocabulary terms specific to audio engineerings, such as loops and tracks.
Knuppel stated that through the use of SpecDrums, students will also be learning the ins and outs of being an audio engineer, which may spark their interest in this topic. Participants in this project will be 4th and 5th-grade music students.
2. A grant for $1,400 was awarded to Janet Benson for “EDP for PES.”
The 3D printer opens up new possibilities for innovation by speeding the path from an abstract idea to a tangible object. The use of a 3D printer will teach the Engineering Design Process to students in a way that is innovative in their curriculum.
Benson stated that during her time with students, students will work in small groups to integrate their knowledge of the use of Tinkercad software with the Engineering Design Process to create and print 3D designs. Together Benson and her students will begin by introducing the Engineering Design Process. They will take time to learn specific Tinkercad skills, and then apply those skills to create symbols that our K-3 students will use to sequence while learning about the Engineering Design Process. After students have designed in Tinkercad and printed a test print on the 3D printer, they will evaluate the test print, create an improvement plan, make changes to their Tinkercad file before printing their final 3D print. The students will select the best representation of the Engineering Design Process symbols. We will create multiple copies of the Engineering Design Process symbols to create sets the K-3 students can use to help them better understand the Engineering Design Process cycle.
3. A grant for $1,500 was awarded to Angela Santiago for “Play that Makes Sense.”
With over 1200 students at Paine Elementary, we need to capitalize on our common shared areas for both learning and play. Paine Elementary believes their central courtyard has the potential for providing an integrated area for all students. The MUSH Grant would allow them to purchase “The Sensory Path Outdoor Sensory Path Package”, which contains reusable stencils. These stencils will create a painted sensory path playground in the courtyard. The sensory path playground will be an excellent way to improve critical thinking skills while promoting social and emotional learning and growth.
Santiago stated that the sensory path playground will offer opportunities to improve gross motor skills, provide brain breaks, and build relationships amongst students. The Sensory Path, a woman-owned business, has worked extensively alongside occupational therapists, physical therapists, and autism experts to create stencil packages that provide varied sensory opportunities for neurotypical and neurodivergent children.
The shared courtyard, where the sensory path playground will be located, will not only provide a safe learning environment but one where all of our students can grow and learn together despite differences. The sensory path playground will be a keystone experience for Paine Elementary students to enjoy for years to come.
4. A grant for $1,320 was awarded to Cynthia Weyerman for the “American Heart Association Exploring STEM Job Skills Kit.”
Weyerman’s greatest desire as a teacher is to make a difference in her students’ lives which creates a continuous cycle of creating a difference in others. This October her husband died unexpectedly from heart failure so when she came across the American Heart Association’s Exploring STEM Job Skills Kit she knew this was a perfect fit for her grant application this year.
Developed in collaboration with the American Heart Association, this innovative kit provides immersive educational experiences that boost essential problem-solving skills and support critical thinking. The exclusive kit features a targeted selection of age-appropriate building sets, engineering activities, and more. As kids use the hands-on materials, they explore STEM concepts, build spatial awareness, and even get an introduction to coding and programming. These kits are reusable year after year because all of the components are non-consumable. One of the biggest indicators of students reaching their potential in the school system is engaging them and giving them an understanding of why they are learning the math and science that Weyerman teaches to 42 students every day. Giving them real-world problems that require the foundational skills they have learned as part of the problem-solving process challenges them to go deeper enriching their mastery
Hewitt-Trussville Middle School:
Hewitt-Trussville Middle School (HTMS) received three grants.
1. A grant for $500 was awarded to Dr. Kimberly Odom for “Brewnique Coffee Company.”
The self-contained classroom at HTMS has started its own business venture, Brewnique Coffee Company (BCC). BCC will sell coffee and sweets to HTMS faculty and staff on Fridays throughout the school year. This project will allow students to learn job skills as well as practice their social skills. Students will take orders, prepare orders, and deliver orders to teachers and staff who have purchased items. Students will additionally practice math life skills, including figuring out a total and providing change.
Odom stated that she would consider this project to be innovative because it allows students who are typically in the same classroom throughout the day to not only be part of the school community but be leaders in it as well. It is HTMS hope that this year-long fundraising effort will turn into a staple at HTMS in the years to come, and not only continue to fund this venture but future ventures and adventures as well. While transition planning is historically part of the high school curriculum, it is Odom’s belief that planning for life after high school should start as soon as possible, especially for students with exceptionalities. By not only having them participate in academics while in middle school, but life skills as well, our students will not only be better prepared to enter post-secondary life once graduating from HTHS, but provide a quality of life that is equal to that of their “typical” peers.
2. A grant for $800 was awarded to Sandy Hoffman for “Linear Modeling with Remote Control Cars.”
Hoffman requested eight remote control cars and 30 stopwatches. Students will use mathematical modeling to determine the speed of a remote control car. Students will find the linear function and calculate the average rate of change. Then, they will convert from feet per second to miles per hour. The lab will help create interest from students by using a remote control car and modeling to real-world scenarios. All 8th g math students will participate. The activity will be done in two class periods.
Hoffman stated that after the activity, students should be able to use a real-world scenario to find linear functions and calculate the average rate of change.
3. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Kaitlin Bowman for “Flex Seating for Focusing.”
Flexible seating allows students to rock, bounce, lean, and stand which increases oxygen flow to the brain, blood flow, alertness, and focus. Flexible seating helps students focus and process information, which is especially helpful for students with ADHD and ADD. Often students with these diagnoses struggle to sit in a seat all day and flex seating allows them to learn in an environment that is better suited to their needs. Giving all students a break from a desk during their day will also help them in every class.
Bowman stated that all students will also benefit because flex seating makes learning more fun and engaging. These items will let students sit in a standard desk, a wobble chair at a table, a portable lap desk around the room, stand at a desk, stand with a balance board, utilize a fidget chair band, or sit on the floor with a cushion or mat. All of these options allow for variety, choice, fidgeting, and fun in the classroom while still promoting focus and learning.
Hewitt-Trussville High School:
Hewitt-Trussville High School (HTHS) received seven grants.
1. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Melanie Dimler for “Physics Goes Wireless.”
HTHS uses a plethora of high-tech equipment to conduct college-level lab experiments that prepare our best and brightest to earn AP Physics credit in high school. The items needed to equip a state-of-the-art physics laboratory is quite expensive, and students could use some help as they transition their outdated wired equipment with the latest and greatest wireless options. Specifically, Dimler would like to purchase wireless SmartCarts, Motion Sensors, Force Sensors, and other wireless accessories with the MUSH Grant.
Dimler stated that now that HTHS students all have Chromebooks, the wireless equipment can pair with student Chromebooks, allowing all physics students to benefit from real-time data collection in our physics laboratories.
2. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Amber Benson for “Connecting Classroom to Community.”
Trussville City Schools believes in providing unique experiences to challenge students and faculty. Leaders from the City of Trussville, the Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Trussville City Schools are strengthening their collaboration through Leadership Hewitt-Trussville at Hewitt-Trussville High School. The inaugural class of Leadership Hewitt-Trussville consists of 18 students who were chosen to “step outside the box” and participate in this year-long leadership development course. In addition to exploring leadership traits and styles, Leadership Hewitt-Trussville has spent the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year attending lunch and learn meetings off-campus with each city department. Students have been engaged as each department has given them a behind-the-scenes view of what makes the City of Trussville the “Gateway to Happy Living.”
Connecting the classroom with the community is the ultimate goal for Leadership Hewitt-Trussville. Students are currently ideating city improvement projects in which they will form groups and pitch to a panel of community leaders in Spring 2022. This panel will consist of city and school leaders and potentially a member of the TCS Foundation. This is an innovative opportunity for students to take ownership of their learning as groups work through the process of project management and collaborate with the City and Chamber.
3. A grant of $1,320 was awarded to Christy Dooley for “A Writer’s Workshop: Creating a collaborative classroom space for writing conferencing.”
Dooley’s grant request is to create a warm and inviting classroom space for writing conferences. Students come to Dooley’s desk one at a time with their writing (either on paper or a Chromebook). Dooley stated they need a less formal and more collaborative space for writing conferences, as students tend to feel vulnerable when they are sharing their writing with others, particularly to the teacher.
Dooley stated that she recently held the first writing conferences of this school year with my students to discuss their “To Kill a Mockingbird” essays. After the conferences, she had students complete an anonymous, open-ended Google form survey in which they were asked to share their thoughts on writing conferences. Students provided her with powerful feedback that reveals why conferencing is valuable, and more importantly, why a designated and comfortable classroom space for it is needed.
4. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to April Howell for “Personal Finance Lab.”
Financial literacy, valuable, real-world experience, and student engagement. Howell stated that all of this is possible through PersonalFinanceLab.com. PFinLab is a digital tool that gives students access to real-time stock data and provides the opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge of personal finance, economics, financial math, accounting, management, marketing, and other relevant business content. Through PFinLab, teachers are equipped with resources to promote financial literacy, empowering students to make smart financial decisions.
5. A grant of $1,20o was awarded to Jill Greene for “HTHS Mass Media Schoolwide Communications Development.”
The goal of the Mass Media class is to build a bridge between the students, school, parents, and the community through media communication. We want to highlight achievements, clubs, and organizations, along with school and community events. While students complete many personal projects for class, they also hope to be a system-wide resource by offering our services of video editing and reliable social media influence. The long-term goal is to play a significant role in communication throughout the entire Trussville City Schools community.
Greene stated that it will also teach students how to clearly communicate in person and through email on a professional level. It will also teach them the importance of planning and timeline adjustments which are among the most valuable skills as they continue after high school.
6. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Valerie Lemmons for “Mamma Mia the Musical.”
The HTHS Theatre Department is aiming to produce Mamma Mia as our Spring Musical for April of 2022. This will be the largest and most expensive musical we have tackled. I would like to purchase ProductionPro (digital scripts and scores), Rehearsal Tracks and Performance Tracks for this show. The grant would allow tools; such as performance accompaniment recordings, Rehearsal Tracks (Rehearscore App), Digital Scripts and Scores, and more.
Lemmons stated that these tools will allow the students to be more organized and to operate in a more professional manner. Students will then be better prepared for college and/or a career in this business.
7. A grant of $1,500 was awarded to Jason Dooley for “Engineering Fabrication Tools.”
The Engineering Academy would like to purchase several small pieces of fabrication equipment and a 3D scanner for Reverse Engineering. These will support multiple activities (in-class and club activities). With the purchase of the fabrication equipment, the Senior Design Class will have the ability to make higher-quality prototypes. The Senior Design class is focused on developing new products and designs that are truly innovative. They identify problems and then apply a design process to come up with a solution.
Dooley stated that the proposed solution then needs to be prototyped to the fullest extent possible within the constraints of a school year. Several Engineering Club activities will also benefit. The Electrathon Car team (3 wheeled electric car racing) will greatly benefit. It will aid in the creation of new car frames while providing the ability to better enhance the currently used cars. Other Club teams would also benefit.