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Arch Coal Foundation awards teaching grants

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Nine Delta County teachers have been named recipients of innovative teaching grants by the Arch Coal Foundation, according to Jim Miller, general manager of Mountain Coal Company's West Elk mine. This is the ninth year that the Arch Coal Foundation has set aside $10,000 to award grants to support teaching excellence in Delta County.

The nine recipients and their projects are:

"Crime Scene Investigation" - Megan Downs, Delta High School: Downs' forensic students will gather evidence from a mock crime scene, analyze evidence, interview witnesses and hold a mock trial for the suspect. Students will be given roles as police officers, crime scene investigators, detectives or specialists (blood splatter analyst, fingerprint analyst, etc.). The project will increase the students' ability to think critically, work in groups and present information publicly, which are important in career development. The grant will underwrite the cost of the equipment and project materials.

"CHS Happenings through Video Production" - Kim Freeman and C.J. Cannell, Cedaredge High School: The teachers want to increase knowledge about school activities and student achievement through more professional videos. Students will produce short weekly videos, which will be shown to CHS students internally as well as placed on the CHS YouTube channel for external audiences. This will allow the school to reach a broader group of people including parents and community members both locally and across the country. The grant will provide a new video editing system.

"Academic Learning through Fishing" - Amanda Cerise, Cedaredge Middle School: Cedaredge sixth-graders will support their outdoor education class with a fly-fishing unit designed to educate them on river ecology, hydrology and wildlife biology, as they study the anatomy and health of a river and the creatures that inhabit it. Students will incorporate geography, reading, science and math throughout the unit as they learn about river recreation and aquatic science. The unit also will include learning basic fly-fishing techniques, fish and insect identification, fly-tying, water safety and trip planning. The project will culminate with each student planning his or her dream fishing trip, including a detailed trip plan and proposed budget, a topographic area map, a packing list of necessary equipment and a detailed itinerary for each day of the trip. The foundation will supply the necessary fly-fishing equipment and materials for the hands-on portion of the project.

"E-textiles: Art and Electronics" - Esther Alsum and Sarah Beiger, North Fork Montessori: Students will be introduced to the concepts and materials used to create e-textiles, including fabric and embedded electronics such as LED lights, conductive thread, speakers and small computers. Students will learn about basic electrical circuits, computer programming, and hand-sewing and embroidery, and they will use these skills to complete an e-textile item such as a bookmark or small wearable item. The grant will underwrite the cost of materials.

"Outdoor Learning Center" - Michael Chastain, Lincoln Elementary: Chastain plans to construct a series of outdoor learning centers at the school that can be used not only for science, technology, engineering and math classes, but also for reading, language arts, art, music and social studies classes. Each grade level will have an area set aside for its particular needs, but all areas also can be used by every grade level along with special groups such as gifted and talented. The learning centers will provide a much-needed outlet for student investigation, community involvement and building an atmosphere of academic exploration in a safe and stimulating environment. The foundation's grant will fund equipment to support the center's start-up.

"First Annual High Altitude Challenge" - Ben Magtutu and Scott Siettmann, Delta High School: Student teams from Delta High School's AP Physics 2 class will compete in the first annual High Altitude Challenge. The project requires teams to design, develop, launch and subsequently retrieve and return to earth a scientific payload exceeding 120,000 feet in altitude. Students will gain valuable physics knowledge and hands-on experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The grant will help purchase equipment needed to develop payloads and also will be shared with other disciplines within the school.

"This year the foundation made a significant program change," Miller explained. "In the past, applicants were restricted to requests of no more than $500. Those limits were removed this year and teachers were challenged to stretch their imaginations and develop interesting, creative projects with broad appeal to many students in the county. We look to our local teachers to enhance student learning in Delta County, and we are pleased to recognize their commitment."

Applicants -- either individual classroom teachers or several educators working in collaboration at one school or at schools across the county -- could request funds for projects up to and including the entire $10,000 made available by the foundation. A committee of area residents and local employees reviewed the applications for creativity, clear program goals and specific measurement criteria.

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