Olathe Elementary first graders did a science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) project this year as part of their problem-based learning curriculum.
They determined the Olathe Town Park needed some improvements, so they did some research (by walking to the park and observing) and followed with a presentation to a panel of people from town to explain their findings and make suggestions. The first graders suggested colorful trash cans, so people could see them. They also wanted to add more equipment, either move the cannon or put a fence around it, get rid of the shoes hanging by their strings over the power line, add more lights for safety at night, and trim back branches.
Maria Lemus and Lynette Rowland, as co-coordinators of Making Olathe Better (MOB), attended the presentations and provided feedback. A few of the first graders also made a presentation at a MOB meeting. As a result, MOB decided to grant $7,570 for park improvements, and to ask the first graders to present the check.
The town received another grant for the same amount, to be used primarily for a drinking fountain/water bottle filling station in the park.
MOB formed in January 2016 as a result of a Colorado Trust grant. "We are in the middle of a planning grant right now and the majority of the money is being used to research the issues in our community, but a portion was also given to use for short term, 'quick' projects and thus, the money for the town park," Rowland explained.
The Colorado Trust supports resident-driven approaches to addressing health equity across Colorado.