CHCCS Receives Duke Energy Continuation Grant
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, in partnership with the Public School Foundation, received a check for a $7,500 continuation grant from Duke Energy Foundation to support expanded Energy and the Environment instruction at Northside Elementary. The award was presented by Indira Everett at Northside Elementary School on May 30.
The money will support further development of educational materials for the Inquiry and Nature-Based Energy and Engineering Program that was funded in 2018 for students in grades 3-5. The program has been piloted at Northside Elementary School as a team effort among the upper elementary teachers and Dan Schnitzer, CHCCS Sustainability Director.
In the greenway behind the school, a group of fifth grade students joined their teachers to celebrate the grant with Principal Coretta Sharpless, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Jessica O’Donovan, School Board Member Rani Dasi and Schnitzer.
The students shared some of their favorite learning experiences arising from the new STEM units the fund has already produced. One child spoke about how her writing improved by using details from nature. Another student described the excitement of using I-Pads and Lego creations to use in outside scenarios. Schnitzer added, “In that activity it got them to slow down and see nature with a different perspective.”
Fifth grade teacher, Michelle Gray said, “The children learn that observation is key, and to learn how their observations tied to their standards really helped us as teachers.”
The initial grant proposal was designed by Schnitzer, in collaboration with a team from from the CHCCS instructional services department, in order to raise both the level of rigor and engagement in science instruction. The Institute for the Environment at UNC has led the development of the training and curriculum, ensuring that the content is aligned with College and Career Readiness standards for 3rd-5th grade students.
“The vision for delivering this distinctive pathway of science instruction capitalizes on the natural inquisitiveness and openness of children, combined with their most accessible physical environment – their school,” said Schnitzer. “Above all, the inquiry-based approach will be successful in engaging all students in STEM. The anticipated result is deeper student interest and excitement in STEM education, leading to increased proficiency in mastering 3rd-5th grade science concepts.”
“We are grateful to Duke Energy Foundation for recognizing this need in our district and supporting our students with increased opportunities for STEM-based learning,” said Dr. Pam Baldwin, Superintendent of CHCCS. “We look forward to the enthusiasm and energy for science that will develop from this grant.”