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Franklin Regional Panther Foundation awards 1st round of 'Innovation Grants'

Patrick Varine
| Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, 6:33 p.m.

The Franklin Regional Panther Foundation recently awarded more than $11,500 as part of its first round of “Innovation Grants,” which will provide equipment and programming for students at the high school and Newlonsburg Elementary.

Newlonsburg Elementary teachers will pilot the “STREAM Forward” program among the school's 130 students in grades 3 to 5 through an $11,000 grant, working to build on their understanding of the STREAM tenets of science, technology, research, engineering, art and mathematics.

District spokeswoman and Panther Foundation Executive Director Cara Zanella said Newlonsburg teachers are in the process of creating a course catalog, from which students will choose classes and projects.

“STREAM integration at all levels is really important,” said teacher and grant co-writer Stefanie Lynn. “Things like engineering, architecture and design and mathematics — those are things our kids can do here at the elementary level with some of the things we're incorporating.”

“STREAM Forward” will be the first formalized STREAM learning of its kind in the district. It is proposing project-based learning through mixed-grade classrooms during school hours.

“Students from grades three, four and five will work together in small groups or teams to create products of varying magnitudes with their newfound knowledge,” Lynn and teacher Carmen Loughner wrote in their grant proposal. “Teachers are sharing their expertise in a passion-driven course and students have a choice in what they will learn. This structure can lead to positive buy-in from all involved.”

Newlonsburg Principal Tina Gillen said she is most excited about giving elementary students an opportunity for hands-on STREAM education.

“They'll be engaging in and using a variety of technology,” Gillen said. “We have nine or 10 teachers who are going to be involved in developing courses, so it's a huge collaborative effort for a school of this size.”

Gillen said the pilot should be rolled out beginning sometime during the third quarter of the school year, possibly in April. A planned “STREAM Forward” expo will showcase student work.

As part of a $592 grant from the foundation, 65 students in the high school's advanced-placement chemistry class will receive new wireless probes for acid/base titration.

“We have only begun to scratch the surface of possibilities that funding from the Innovation Grants can provide to Franklin Regional's academic, arts and athletic programming,” Zanella said.

The nonprofit foundation's programs and grants are funded through donations from businesses, corporations, individuals and sponsors.

The next round of applications will be accepted in December.

For more on the foundation, call 724-327-5456, ext. 7624.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862.

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