Thank you Times Union and Capital Region Giving blog for highlighting BCCF and our 2014-2015 Classroom Grants.

On July 1, 2014 the Bethlehem Central School District accepted a $10,066 check from Bethlehem Central Community Foundation (BCCF) to support 16 Classroom Innovation Grants.

The 16 grants are:

· The Pine Hollow Field Biology program for students at Glenmont, Hamagrael, Elsmere, Eagle, and Slingerlands

This outdoor learning opportunity is a partnership with the Pine Hollow Arboretum, a 25-acre arboretum and nature preserve located in Slingerlands. Through this grant, Bethlehem Central High School students will be trained by a field biologist in how to lead nature tours and and science lessons for elementary school students at each of our five elementary schools. The tours and lessons will help elementary students learn material required for the 4th grade NYS Science exams. In addition, our BCHS high school students will have the opportunity to develop important leadership and presentation skills.

● To Jennifer Gonyea for the Praying Mantis Life Cycle & Ecological Importance project

Through this grant, students in our elementary schools will learn about the life cycle of the praying mantis, a fascinating insect that plays a vital role in garden habitats. Students will be able to observe praying mantis eggs hatch into nymphs and develop into adults. These insect study projects will be timed for Earth Day in April to help students understand the interconnections between insects and our gardens

●To Christopher Holoday for the Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, and Stream Conservation Club initiative

In his grant application, Mr. Holoday confessed to an “obsession” with fly fishing for trout. This obsession led him to become an active member of Trout Unlimited, a conservation organization focused on protecting and restoring our coldwater fishery waterways. Through this grant, Mr. Holoday will introduce a new generation of BCMS students to fly fishing, fly tying, and stream conservation. Students will learn about the vitally important need to take care of our waterways and what they can do to help. This grant will purchase the equipment required to start the first ever Fly Fishing, Fly Tying and Stream Conservation Club at the middle school.

· To Missy Woller, Nancy Davis, and Diane Alston from Elsmere Elementary School for Boogie Boards for Elsmere Kindergarten

Helping kindergarten students develop the fine motor skills required for writing is a primary goal in kindergarten. In their grant proposal, these teachers identified a new and greener way for kindergarten students to develop these skills by using Boogie Boards. Boogie Boards are eraseable writing surfaces with an LCD screen and stylus. Beginning in the fall of 2014, the kindergartners at Elsmere will be able to use these boards to practice letter formation and other important writing and drawing skills.

· To Marielle Martin for the myPhoneography Technology Supplement project

Photography has changed dramatically in the last few years thanks to the cameras built into our smart phones. Ms. Martin developed a class to teach students to take high quality photographs with their smart phones, upload the images to an iPad, and then edit and manipulate the images. The challenge that she faced was that not all students had access to Apple iPhones or iPod Touches. This made it difficult for these students to upload their images to the classroom iPads for editing. Thanks to this grant, Ms. Martin will have several iPod Touch devices available in the classroom for use by students who do not have Apple iPhones. As a side note, this innovative class was recently featured in an article in the Capital Region Business Review.

· To Kenneth J. Neff from the High School for his Arduino Programming and Robotics project

Through this innovative project, Mr. Neff will introduce students in his AP Physics class to the Arduino Microcontroller and the Processing programming language. In addition, he will use the Arduinos to launch a Robotics Club, which has been long hoped for by many BCHS students. Both of these initiatives will encourage students to develop important Science, Technology, Engineering & Math, or STEM, skills. This grant will be used to purchase six Arduino starter kits and related equipment.

● To Courtney Longton from Glenmont Elementary for her iPads to Promote and Encourage Innovation project

This grant will be used to purchase two iPad Airs for use by students in Glenmont Elementary’s fifth grade classrooms. The iPad Airs will be used to enhance learning across all curriculum areas. Examples include using the iPads to review math concepts and strategies using the Kahn Academy and publishing their own books using iBooks. In addition, they will be able to create their own podcasts about science concepts covered in the 5th grade curriculum, including whales, oceans, mixtures & solutions, and crayfish.

● To Kristy Eldeen from Eagle for her project Incorporating Technology into Elementary Library Classes Through iPads

In her grant application, Ms. Eldeen noted that students have different learning styles and that differentiated teaching approaches are needed to increase student learning. She is also a believer in helping all students become comfortable using technology so that they can be college and career ready by the end of high school. To help students reach these goals, students at Eagle will now be able to use one of the three new iPad minis in the library as they work on group and individual research projects.

● To Lisa Wood & Todd Tyler from the Middle School for the Car Construction Kits for the Science Academic Bowl Club

Science teachers Lisa Wood & Todd Tyler have always looked for ways to encourage their students to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (or STEM) concepts. One very successful way of doing this has been the Science Academic Bowl Team, which Ms. Wood and Mr. Tyler have sponsored for several years. Students participating in the Science Academic Bowl Team learn advanced science concepts to compete against other school teams in our region. An exciting part of these competitions is the Lithium Ion Battery Operated Car Race. Teams of students build lithium ion battery-powered cars and then race them against cars built by other teams. Through this grant, the Science Academic Bowl Team will have the materials and supplies to build several years’ worth of cars. We look forward to hearing about their success in future Science Bowl competions.

· To Jennifer Brown from the High School for the Integrating Research into Science Curriculum proposal

Ms. Brown identified a need for high school science students to have access to the newest scientific journals for research projects. Through a subscription to Science Direct, students will have full-text access to more than 2,500 journals and 20,000 books. In this way, students will be able review and use the latest and most appropriate scholarly sources for their science and technology individual and group projects.

· To Jessica Westervelt at the High School for the Purchase of Digital Recorders for use in foreign language classes

Ms. Westervelt noted in her application that it is important for foreign language teachers to assess individual students’ listening and speaking skills. This can be challenging because class sizes make it hard for teachers to spend sufficient one-on-one time with students to determine language fluency. Now, students in the foreign language program at the high school will be able to use one of the 14 digital recorders purchased with this grant award to record themselves individually and in small group conversations. Teachers will then be able to use these recordings during non-class times to determine areas for improvement and further instruction.

· To Fred Powers at the High School for the Bowling for Success program

The Physical Education faculty at the High School has faced several challenges in recent years due to reductions in staffing and budget cuts. These reductions affected one of the most popular PE courses offered for juniors and seniors: bowling. Bowling is also a sport that appeals to students who may not excel in other types of physical education activities. Thanks to this grant award, BCHS students will again be able to learn the game of bowling, which fulfills all three New York State standards for physical education. The grant will support the purchase of 10 bowling sets, including pins, balls, and carrying bags for next year’s Physical Education classes.