On June 29, 2017, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that three schools in Douglas County were awarded Innovation Fund Tiny Grants from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. Thirty-nine schools in Georgia were recipients of the grants which involve applied learning with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education.
Arbor Station Elementary will receive $8,800 to equip the school’s STEM Lab, which will serve students in kindergarten through 5th grade. Each student will visit the lab weekly for STEM-related activities as part of Arbor Station’s enrichment schedule. “We are so pleased as a faculty and staff to provide this opportunity for our students to explore STEM next year,” said Arbor Station Principal Melissa Joe. “I appreciate Assistant Principal Thomas Bruno’s hard work in writing the grant and securing the funds for our school.”
Sweetwater Elementary will receive $9,999 for “VR Knights.” Sweetwater will enhance their STEAM initiative through the use of virtual reality technology in English Language Arts, science, and social studies. Virtual reality will immerse students in different environments and time periods and will help them engage with the content in new and innovative ways. Funds will be used to purchase a class set of virtual glasses which teachers can check out and use to enhance their lessons by “traveling” and gaining educational experiences far beyond the walls of the classroom. There is also a component that will engage the school’s English Language Learner students. “I am so excited that our teachers will be able to transport their entire classroom to a different place and time period and witness experiences that were previously impossible or inaccessible, including touring the Great Pyramids in Egypt and exploring locations like outer space,” said Sweetwater Principal Dr. Emily Felton. “With the click of a button, students can even witness key events and places in the past, like Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream Speech’ or Neil Armstrong’s first moon walk.” Assistant Principal Tameka Scott was instrumental in obtaining the grant for Sweetwater.
The Extended Robotics Team at Alexander High School will use the $5,933.14 grant to provide resources to three middle schools that feed into Alexander. By providing these resources, the competitive robotics program at Alexander will assist the middle school students in STEAM activities that involve design, building, programming, and teamwork.
The funds from the Tiny Grants will further the Douglas County School System’s commitment to providing computer science education to all students in grades K-12. Douglas County is the first school system in the state to embrace computer science education for all students and expects to have the complete K-12 curriculum finalized by the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Schools are already integrating computer science into existing math and science classes as well as offering courses solely focused on foundational and advanced skills. Many schools at all levels offer extracurricular and after-school clubs for coding and robotics.