READING, PA – From programming a robot to pedaling a cycle while learning, students around Berks County are receiving the benefits of five grants that are funding classroom activities and projects.
In its annual classroom mini-grant program, Berks County Community Foundation awarded $3,371 to five schools. The grants support classroom activities or projects that improve student learning and enhance an existing curriculum, with creative projects given preference.
This year’s grants:
$1,353.70 for a Muhlenberg School District program called “Elementary Electrical Engineers: Designing Circuits with Little Bits,” which develops an understanding of problem-solving and design used in electrical engineering. The program serves about 1,200 students in third through sixth grades. This grant is from the Public Education Foundation Fund for Instructional Innovation of Berks County Community Foundation.$590 for Northeast Middle School Theatre Club’s production of Captain Louie Jr. The Reading School District club is in its third year of providing after-school activities for students, who perform for other students and public audiences. The grant is from the Ben Franklin Trust Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.$572.22 to Brandywine Heights Elementary School for “Pedal to Learn! – Integrating Fitness into the Classroom with Under-Desk Pedals.” The grant purchased pedal cycles for the classroom of second-grade teacher Katie Hess. In her application for the grant, Hess wrote: “Recent studies have shown that people, almost immediately after exercising, are better able to concentrate and ignore distractions.” Since putting the cycles in her classroom, Hess said she has already seen improvements in students’ mood, behavior and academic performance. This grant was from a combination of the Berks County Association of School Retirees Scholarship and Grant Fund, the Public Education Foundation Fund for Instructional Innovation, and the Ben Franklin Trust Fund, all at Berks County Community Foundation.$544 for the Envirothon Club’s Native Bird Habitat project at Tulpehocken Area Junior-Senior High School. Students are creating a bird habitat for multidisciplinary use in arts, sciences and social sciences. Pamela Shealer, a science teacher, said in her application for the grant that the courtyard will have raised beds that can be used to test hypotheses on soil pH, solar rays, and species interactions. She said students will also receive a lesson in landscaping as they design the space. The habitat will also be a source of inspiration for art classes that have windows that provide a direct view, and it can be used when social studies classes are learning about agriculture through the ages, she added. The sanctuary should be completed by September. The grant is from the Berks County Association of School Retirees Scholarship and Grant Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.$311.65 for the Lauer’s Park Elementary School program “Makerspace in the Library” to purchase technology so 130 fourth-grade Reading School District students can build with circuits and program a robot. Girls at the elementary have historically underperformed on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in math and science. “We are hoping this type of experience will encourage our girls to enjoy math and science and improve on their PSSA tests,” said Dawn Conrad, librarian, in her application. The grant is from the Ben Franklin Trust Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.