Karen Engelkenjohn, a Gifted Specialist at Reed Elementary School, received a $1,000 grant from Monsanto on the first day of school that will be used to buy agriculturally-focused kits for students. Karen said she was invited to apply for the Dannette Ward Science Education Grant because the school had hosted a Science Night the year before and had invited Monsanto employees to join in the fun.
The overarching goal, Karen said, is to increase the number of students in the school science fair, an event that is held in late March or early April and is voluntary for the students. This grant will be put toward that goal. Karen hopes to begin a science club before school this year to get more kids interested in the fair. For the club, she plans to buy two kits that deal with plants and engineering. Karen also wants to use the funds to buy tri-fold boards and notebooks.
“We’ll have those supplies for the kids who can’t afford to go buy those things,” she said. “If they want to be in the science fair, being unable to buy materials isn’t going to stop them.”
Four students who participated in the science fair in previous years received the check with Karen. Fourth grade friends Alison Nieder and Mikaela Mikulec said they enjoy everything about the fair: coming up with ideas together, research and the experiments. They’re excited to get started on this year’s projects and plan to get their friends involved, too!
Karen said she and Technology Integration Coach Jill Badalamenti are striving to get students involved in more STEM activities (science, technology, engineering and math) on a regular basis. Jill’s morning initiative, Genius Hour, has garnered attention for how its getting students excited about learning about subjects of their choice, topics they might not have the opportunity to learn about in other classes.
“This is another piece in our Reed STEM initiative,” Karen said. “It’s just another piece of the puzzle.”