Teachers Awarded $3,166 for Creative and Innovative Classroom Projects

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By: Kallie Sulanke—

Muncie, IN—Seventeen local teachers will receive $3,166 in Robert P. Bell Education Grants from The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, Inc.  Across the county, thousands of students benefit from Bell Education Grants each year.

Awards of up to $450 are available through the Bell Grants program. Funded projects are creative or innovative classroom projects designed to stimulate learning in students. All Delaware County teachers are invited to apply during any of the four grant cycles.

Awards for the first cycle of this school year include:

Michelle Bade, West View Elementary School, was awarded $450 to expose kindergarten and first-grade music students to handbells. The colored handbells are designed with young students in mind. Students will first learn about the instruments and the sound each bell makes. They will then have the opportunity to produce their own music with the help of color-coded cards. The lessons will result in a performance during a winter concert.

Christy Bilby, Whitney Hood, and Ashley Osterholt, Albany Elementary School, were awarded $395 to engage second-grade students in reading and technology through multi-classroom digital book discussions and reviews. After reading books from The Magic Tree House series, students will discuss the books between classrooms using a Google Doc. They will use a green screen app to create a summary video of the books, which can be shared via QR code with parents and other students.

Lance Brand, Delta High School, was awarded $450 to introduce dual credit advanced biology students to synthetic biology through an inquiry investigation. Students will develop and test their own genetic constructs, providing hands-on experience similar to a professional lab.

Beth Buehler, East Washington Academy, was awarded $157 to improve math and logic skills while encouraging cooperation among third and fourth-grade students. Students will work together using opportunities to solve a mystery through math and logic puzzles, perseverance, and compromise. 

Wendy Jones, Yorktown High School, was awarded $394 to encourage high school students to read more classic literature. After reading classic texts, ninth and tenth grade English language arts students will create marketing posters to advertise the books. The posters will be displayed on student lockers to encourage school-wide conversation about the classic works and free reading among all students.

Rusty Lumpkin, Cowan Jr./Sr. High School, was awarded $379 to demonstrate the power of our atmosphere and its ability to exert pressure to high school chemistry and physics students. Students will experience the effects of air friction and how to minimize its negative effects with a vacuum. Using a vacuum cleaner, tubes, and ping pong balls, students will recreate and measure different atmospheric pressures.

Lisa McKee and Julie Marshall, Eaton Elementary School, were awarded $230 to demonstrate the concept of buoyancy to second graders. Students will learn about properties that make things float. In groups, they will use a variety of materials to design a prototype boat, test their prototype, and make additional adjustments to improve their design. Students will present their final designs to the class.

Christie Pasman, Selma Middle School, was awarded $450 to show sixth-grade social studies students types of vegetation that grow in the major biomes of Europe and the Americas. In their classroom, students will experience the pampas grass of Argentina, the steppes of Russia, and the veldts of Africa. An indoor greenhouse will extend the blooming period of a carrion cactus and support other plants outside of our local biome.

Candace Smithson, Cowan Jr./Sr. High School and Dianne Love, Amy Meekin, Michelle Rumfelt, and Magee Shepler, Cowan Elementary School, were awarded $212 to teach and reinforce the scientific inquiry and the steps of the scientific method to high school biology students, and their first and second grade Science Buddies. Biology students will prepare three lessons using Fortune Fish, Rattlebacks, and Choositz Decision Balls as observation inquiry tools. Together the older and young students will observe, hypothesize, experiment, collect data and analyze results.

Laurie Wilhelm, Pleasant View Elementary School, was awarded $49.51 to help first graders improve reading skills by reading to residents at a local nursing home. Through the visits, students and residents will develop mutually beneficial relationships that support positive social and emotional health.

In 2016, The Community Foundation established the Robert P. Bell Teacher Grants Fund to permanently endow the program to ensure that teachers have access to funds to help engage their students in meaningful ways for years to come. Individuals can contribute to the new endowment fund to memorialize a special teacher, honor a retiring teacher or teacher celebrating a work anniversary, or to simply show their support for K-12 education in Delaware County. A dollar for dollar matching opportunity is available for gifts made to the Robert P. Bell Teacher Grants Fund. Donations may be made online at cfmdin.org or mailed to The Community Foundation at PO Box 807, Muncie, IN 47308.

The next deadline for Bell Grants is November 1, 2017. For more information about Bell Grant applications and the Robert P. Bell Teacher Grants Fund, contact Carly Acree-King, Program Officer at cacreeking@cfmdin.org. Information is also available at cfmdin.org.