2017 Mini-Grant Award Winners

Ms. Djohariah Singer, Art Teacher – Jonathan Hager Elementary School 

Award:  $996
Project: JHE School Community Garden  

Jonathan Hager Elementary students will build a school community garden starting with one (1) 4’x6’ raised bed and (1) tilled plot (4’x12’) per grade.  The project will be managed by the art teacher, and will be planted outside the south-facing wall of the art classroom.  Fifth grade students will first help build the raised beds using math and woodworking skills.  Each grade will then help seal, paint, and decorate each class box. Students will then be stewards of their plot of land to plant and use for STEM curricula accordingly in their classes. This school project will last for decades.   

Priscilla Howard, Art Teacher – Clear Spring Elementary School  

Award:  $1000
Project: Agriculture in the Classroom 

Agriculture in the Classroom will support our school’s Maryland Green School 2nd Certification, Healthy Schools Challenge, STEAM, the common core curriculum for 1st -5th grade and the National Standards for the Visual Arts.  The program will first be implemented by Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, the foundation has mobile science labs that are brought to the school for a week to teach students rigorous lessons.  The mobile science lab Clear Spring Elementary would select is the “Explore the Wondrous World of Agriculture”.  The investigations on the Mobile Science Labs will allow students to explore the NGSS eight practices of science and engineering identified as essential for all students to learn. The lessons support the new Environmental Literacy standards as students discover four of the ways farmers protect the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. After the lessons on the mobile science lab students will design their own environmentally friendly farm in their core extension period for visual arts.  Classroom teachers will also implement lessons to support the Agriculture in the Classroom program. Thorough documentation of the lessons, activities, and assessments will be collected for green school certification, the healthy schools farm to school criteria, and grant purposes.  

Alexander Benedict, 6th Grade Social Studies teacher – Springfield Middle School

Award:  $1000
Project: “Around the world in 80 pictures books: Teaching ancient civilizations through text sets”

The funds requested will be used to purchase over 70 picture books that are aligned with the Sixth Grade Social Studies curriculum. Research has shown the benefit of using picture books in middle school classrooms. Using this grant, 6th Grade Social Studies teachers will be able to present ancient civilizations content through the use of picture books. This will greatly enhance the implementation of the Social Studies and Ancient History curriculum. The books will allow the learners to make deeper connections and more meaningful connections with the content. The stories will make history come alive and help all learners make connections to cultures and unique histories all around the world. The acquisition of the books will help teachers to further excite and engage the learners, as well as, create lesson plans and extension activities that align with Social Studies modules and standards.

David Dulberger, 5th Grade Magnet Teacher – Emma K. Doub Elementary School

Award:  $160
Project: Bluetooth Basketballs for STEM Learning

 The bluetooth basketballs (i.e. 94fifty, Wilson X, DribbleUp, etc) will be used for Physical Education integrated STEM lessons. Each basketball can be connected to an iPad application that tracks data. With two basketballs the class can work in large groups to understand the physics and laws of motion involved in the sport of basketball. More specifically, students can learn about acceleration, friction, and energy transformation.potential to help students spark an interest in STEM careers and connect STEM to athletics.

Jeanine Horst, Teacher – Cascade Elementary School

Award:  $995
Project: LEGO EV3 STEM Maker Space activity

The LEGO MINDSTORMS is a programmable robotics construction set that gives you the power to build, program and command your own LEGO robots. The set includes everything you need to create any of 17 robots and make them walk, talk, move and do whatever you can imagine. Students will exercise   precise logical thinking, use data to make decisions, analyze problems, and build solutions individually or in teams to promote life long problem solving skills. These activities are concrete and provide immediate feedback. The Mindstorm EV3 is a tool that make concepts like “consider problems analytically” and “use data to inform decisions”  seem real and approachable, not abstract.

  Bryan Pirkle, 8th Grade Science Teacher – Western Heights Middle School

Award:  $570
Project: Life: From Basic to Brilliant (The History of Life on Earth)

The project is designed to take students through the changes in life that have occurred on our planet from the beginning of its’ formation until today. The students will get to see how things like mass extinctions, continental plate movement, and natural selection have shaped life on this planet. The goal is to do this through the utilization of labs, manipulatives, samples, computer software, maps, and models.

Laura Puffenbarger, Grade 3 – Boonsboro Elementary School

Award:  $419
Project: Aquaponics

Students learn about ecosystems and animal/plant interdependence in 3rd grade. This 3-gallon fish tank is a closed-loop, self-cleaning ecosystem. Using the science of aquaponics, the fish waste naturally fertilizes the plants above and, in turn, the plants clean the water for the fish. This is a prime example of how fragile ecosystems are across the world.

Lauren Merroth, Social Studies Teacher – Western Heights Middle School

Award:  $600
Project: Learning in Virtual Reality

As a social studies teacher, I strongly believe students can benefit from viewing other cities and historical landmarks through virtual reality, that they otherwise would never be able to see or experience. This is a chance to bring history (and other subjects!) alive.  Students will gain an understanding of historical landmarks, as well as other countries and their cultures. They can use them to analyze how where people live influences how they live, taking advantage of technology to become better global citizens. For the historical aspect, they will be able to better understand historical events by seeing the geography and landscape of where they took place. For example, students will analyze how geography influenced different battles (high ground gives advantage, etc). There are also VR videos of places such as Mars and different ecosystems that would be extremely beneficial to science teachers.

Ashley Vascik, Social Studies Teacher – Boonsboro High School

Award:  $286
Project: Resources for the AP Government Classroom

The goal is to acquire resources to further engage AP Government students in interactive activities while advancing their content understanding.  The resources listed in “Proposed Project Budget” include moot court and mock trial simulations as well as resources to encourage literacy.  The political cartoon and primary source resources aims at the heart of the new AP Government curriculum focus which includes the necessity for students to be able to dissect, interpret, and analyze primary sources and political cartoons.  The Annual Editions resource provides relevant ancillary reading material to further expand student understanding of the concepts covered as well as give them a way to connect what they are learning to real-world events and happenings.

Erik Vreeland, Library Media/STEM – Fountaindale Elementary School

Award:  $907
Project: Fountaindale Media Center Makerspace

During the 2016-17 school year I began the process of incorporating a Makerspace into our regular Library Encore time and would like to obtain more supplies to continue this project to further build student engagement and understanding.  During Maker times, I have had students start to ask me questions about how things certain things work and I would love to have them figure it out rather than me tell them.  The STEAM kits that I am requesting would enable our students to learn about the inner workings of common devices by personally building them while developing curiosity, creativity, and future problem solvers.

Staci Calder, Band Director – Smithsburg High School

Award:  $800
Project: Utilizing Our Resources

The Smithsburg High School Band and Jazz Ensemble are thriving performing arts groups. Unfortunately, much of our school-owned equipment is currently unusable due to disrepair. For a fraction of the cost of one new instrument, two ensembles would benefit by repairing several of the school-owned “bass” instruments. The overall ensemble would be enhanced by having a more balanced instrumentation. It would provide an opportunity each year for several students to learn a new instrument while improving the experience for every student involved in the performance group.

Jennifer Roberts, Music teacher – Fountaindale Elementary School 

Award:  $999
Project: Play the Ukulele!

Fifth graders will learn to play ukulele! Students will learn proper playing technique, create a composition, and participate in a final concert performance. Students will learn to play chords and melodies for folk, multicultural, and modern songs. Self-expression, confidence, focus, perseverance, creativity, and collaborative skills are just some of the additional lifetime learning benefits that this new program will provide for students.

Benjamin Hurley, Computer Science/STEM Teacher – Pangborn Elementary School

Award:  $1000
Project: Computer Programming and Design with Ozobots

This project is to support the elementary Computer Science instruction at our school. Students in different grade levels would be given the opportunity to use Ozobot’s to work in pairs to learn computer programming while supporting STEM initiatives in math and science. Their goal is to learn sequential thinking, logical reasoning, problem solving skills all while supporting the WCPS transfer goals in curiosity and creativity. Using these robots, they will begin with the color codes to spark curiosity and discover programming. Then transfer those skills to writing computer language to program their robots using their iPads. Students will then design challenge mazes for other students to code their Ozobot to complete.



Jennifer Clinger, GATE Teacher – Hickory Elementary School

Award:  $5000
Project: Makerspace Mania 

The makerspace movement is taking education by storm.  Hickory Elementary School would like to create a makerspace in our building.  Makerspaces give students the opportunity to create, problem solve, and collaborate through the exploration of various materials in which they are creating something to solve a given problem.  This space can be used as a launch pad for STEM education.  Students can also learn by “hacking” or taking things apart to find out how they work.  Learning is hands-on, interdisciplinary, and authentic.  Makerspaces give students a place to apply the creative and critical thinking skills they learn in the classroom.

FASFA Frenzy $500 Scholarship

Megan Campbell, Williamsport High School
Hannah Frye, Williamsport High School
Nickoli Hont, Williamsport High School

See photos of our 2017 award winners!

See the 2017 award winner outcomes with pictures!