BP gives grant to Morgan, city schools
By Bayne Hughes
Chestnut Grove Elementary kindergarten students can look forward to learning about the “Greedy Greenhouse” and “Solar Space,” plus they’ll get a “Sunsational Surprise,” have an “Energy Encounter” and learn the “Solar Secrets.”
These names are part of a unit, “Solar Surprise,” that Stephanie Wallace and her fellow kindergarten teachers will teach because of a $10,000 grant from the BP Corp.
Chestnut Grove received one of eight grants as BP Corp. awarded $70,000 in grants to schools in Decatur City and Morgan County school systems as part of the “A+ for Energy” program.
The teachers received $5,000 and $10,000 for use in energy-education projects and materials in their classrooms. The winning entries include five multi-classroom projects that reach across different grade levels, one schoolwide project, a multi-classroom project for kindergarten classes and a multi-classroom project for high school students.
BP also awarded $13,500 in scholarships to the winning teachers to attend a three-day conference that BP and the National Energy Education Development Project co-sponsors. Winning teachers receive an energy science kit and a set of student materials for classrooms valued at $500.
Wallace explained her project as five different sun-themed rooms. After a basic lesson about the sun, they’ll start with the “Solar Secrets” as they enter a room the teachers will convert into a planetarium.
“They’ll learn about space and see where the earth is located,” Wallace said.
“Greedy Greenhouse” is a catchy name for room designed to teach the children about living things and how they depend on the sun for life, Wallace said.
Students will learn about the sun’s energy in “Energy Encounter” with lessons on how the sun produces winds, rainbows, rain, power, fuel and food.
When they leave the “Sunsational Surprise” room, the students will know about the earth and the sun and their places in the solar system. They’ll learn about the land masses and the bodies of water that make up the earth’s surface.
“Solar Space” features lessons on day and night for the students.
Computers in “Solar Search” will help the students write about their experiences in the other four rooms.
They will also create a story that the teachers will turn into a book so each can look back and remember the experiences and the things they learned in the unit.
Finally, the students will make some “Community ConnectSuns” as guest speakers from the community visit. For example, the teachers are planning to build a flower garden so Wallace is bringing in a nursery worker to talk about plants. The students will create a video and share it with the school.
The unit ends with a field trip to Sci-Quest Hands-on Science Center in Huntsville.
Wallace is planning for the unit to last about three weeks, but she said it could take longer “because there’s so many hands-on activities that I think they’re really going to enjoy.”
Some 100 students in at least five kindergarten classes will benefit from the project.
Energy grant winners
Rochelle Biffle, Priceville High School: “Biodiesel: An Alternative Energy Source.”
Philomena Compton Jones, Austinville Elementary School: “Project BP.”
Jeanne Dukeminier, West Morgan Elementary School: “Kindergarten: Left in the Dark!”
Cheryl Hall, Lacey’s Spring School: “Sunny Side Up.”
Rebekah Hopper, West Morgan Elementary School: “Wind Energy Works!”
Catrena Jackson, Oak Park Middle School: “The Exploration of Solar Energy within Eighth Grade Physical Science.”
Brandy Quattlebaum, Sparkman Elementary School: “Project GREN (Greenhouse, Recycling, ENergy).”
Stephanie Wallace, Chestnut Grove Elementary School: “Solar Surprise.”
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