Fine to Fabulous — Scientific Exploration Takes Off – $5,000
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley is honored to award this grant to the Rendezvous Upper Elementary School (RUES). Educational programs are one of the prime focus areas for the Community Foundation Grant Program. The Community Foundation understands that public schools often lack funding and resources and sees this project as a prime example of utilizing relationships and current assets to provide an elevated student experience. Moreover, the Community Foundation of Teton Valley appreciates the increased number of students that will be able to engage with this program with the funds being awarded.
Child advocates link the lack of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. There is a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. A partnership between RUES and Teton Raptor Center will offer a practical solution of engaging students through live raptors and hands-on education to reinvigorate students’ interest in connecting with nature and the outdoors. There is also a need to connect students with real-world opportunities for them to solve a common problem and make a difference in their community. Academic language is also a goal area for RUES and this project will provide a perfect platform for building academic language in the area of science with students. This project will directly impact the community in a variety of ways: providing a place for students to go after school (Driggs Public Library), connecting students to nature and the environment in which they live, and aligning curriculum to meet the new science standards, making school engaging and fun, providing an alternative place, twice a week, for students to cultivate friendships and deeper learning by accessing the MakerSpace before school and during lunch to work on curiosity projects.
This grant will help bolster the science curriculum by not only providing more rigorous classroom lessons but by extending the learning opportunities to include hands-on activities that promote critical thinking and understanding of the design thinking process. Not only does this promote interest and understanding related to the sciences, but it also frees the school counselor, who is currently teaching classroom lessons twice a week, to service the growing needs of students with significant trauma and social-emotional needs. While much of this project is underway, this specific grant will be used to purchase the remaining curricular modules for 4th grade and make the Raptor Visits a reality. The Teton Raptor Center will visit each 4th-grade classroom five times (each Tuesday between winter sports and spring break) with the goal of instilling a sense of place among students living in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and to enhance their awareness of nature. Staff from Teton Raptor Center, and its live raptor ambassadors, will conduct hands-on activities related to adaptations of wildlife, wintering habits, migration, and technology used for research at Teton Raptor Center. The TRC Education Program has been designed so it aligns with the current 4th-grade curriculum and meets current Idaho State Standards in the area of science. The program also will provide practice and application of skills in English Language Arts. Through these visits, our 4th-grade students will be exposed to more than 90% of the Idaho science standards for their grade level, including technology integration and measurement.
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley, through its Competitive Grant Program, is committed to providing financial resources for educational programs that enhance students’ learning experiences. This program is an excellent example of how innovation, partnership, and leveraging current resources can increase learning opportunities for students without overextending teachers. The Community Foundation looks forward to hearing about the successes of this program.