Foundation grants allow upgrades
By J.W. Johnson Jr. Cranberry Bureau Chief
ADAMS TWP — Upgrades to the Mars Centennial School's library and new equipment for science, technology, engineering, art and math students are happening thanks to a grant from the Mars Planet Foundation.
The foundation gives out Teaching Enrichment Grants to teachers and staff in the district as a way to offer new educational opportunities that aren't part of the existing curriculum.
Earlier this month, Colleen Hinrichsen, a STEAM teacher at the school, received a $1,312.05 for a “Transforming iPads into Creation Studios” project. The funding will help purchase 15 Dewey Document camera stands to aid students in creating multimedia projects, such as stop-motion animation.
Meanwhile, Chris Churilla, librarian/media studies teacher, was given $609.57 for a “Media Center Collaboration Space.”
According to Churilla, he has focused this school year on transforming the library space into a media center, including creating new collaboration spaces for students work together. He said the grant money will pay for three high-top tables and stools to create an area, “that allows for a welcoming and open space to promote creativity, project-based learning and collaboration.”
Churilla said since installing the tables, students have been working in small groups on Media Studies and Digital Citizenship projects. Those projects include completing research and projects that go along with classroom curriculum, with teachers bringing their classes to the media center to use the space. He said the use of the space and the collaboration it promotes are essential to keeping students engaged.
“As school programs and curriculum evolve to incorporate more hands-on learning, media centers must also evolve to continue to support the classroom curriculum,” he said.
In addition to the grant-funded seating areas, Churilla said other upgrades within the media center include new dry-erase table tops and a reading area that includes beanbag chairs and rocking benches. Those items were purchased using district funds as well as money raised during the fall Scholastic Book Fair.