Submitted The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, presented Central Elementary School with a $5,000 grant to be used for the purchase of science inquiry centers. Pictured (from left): Read to be Ready coach Kim Andersen, CES Principal Daniel Cook, 2nd grade teacher Lucas Tirjan, TVA Program Manager Tim Hughes and Tri-County Electric marketing assistant Tracy Roark.

Submitted

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, presented Central Elementary School with a $5,000 grant to be used for the purchase of science inquiry centers.

Pictured (from left): Read to be Ready coach Kim Andersen, CES Principal Daniel Cook, 2nd grade teacher Lucas Tirjan, TVA Program Manager Tim Hughes and Tri-County Electric marketing assistant Tracy Roark.

Central Elementary School was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) that will be used to purchase science inquiry centers for students, with the goal of implementing them by next school year.

"This grant gives our students the opportunity to explore many areas of engineering and design," CES Principal Daniel Cook said. "We would like to express our appreciation to TVA for awarding our school this grant."

Activities students will be able to work on through the centers deal with tasks like building bridges, working with magnets and circuits and forcing motion. A complete hydraulic engineering kit will also be included with each set of material.

"The school has never had a lot of STEM material before," CES Read to be Ready coach Kim Andersen said. "The current literacy movement in Tennessee is all about connecting science and social studies material to reading, to broaden things and help kids understand concepts they might be having trouble with."

Cook said that the science center activities are planned to take place during the school's one-hour reading block and will allow students to diversify their skillsets.

"Every class has centers for different activities," Cook said. "This will be a part of that. We'll brainstorm activities for children related to fields in engineering and design."

With the grant funding, CES will be able to purchase the science centers for half of its classrooms and plans to share materials so that every student can work with them daily.

"These are going to provide that hands-on learning experience for our students," Andersen said. "We have a little over 400 children at the school, and they rotate through 10 centers each day. This will cover the engineering field, but we're also adding in other areas like life sciences."

The competitive grant is part of a $580,000 pool awarded to 161 schools in the TVA service area, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated.

Preference was given to applications exploring the TVA primary focus areas, with educators from seven states in contention.

"The goal of the program was to help further STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education across the valley," TVA Community Relations Program Manager Rachel Crickmar said. "We knew this program would be popular and competitive, and now, we're looking forward to seeing the impact these projects have."

Andersen hopes the science centers will inspire some of Central Elementary's students to become future leaders in engineering.

"If we look internationally, American students tend to fall behind in engineering," Andersen said. "It's difficult for kids to think outside the box, and (these centers) allow them to create things without anyone telling them what to do or how to do it."