Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation Receives AT&T Grant
Students at Pryor Middle School will benefit from a statewide investment by AT&T this year, one that seeks to increase understanding of how classroom curriculum translates into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.
To provide a critical link from classroom to careers, AT&T is once again working with the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) to provide experiential learning opportunities for students in school districts across Florida. Real-world application of STEM education concepts, problem-solving and critical thinking skills will all be key elements of the 45 separate projects to be organized and funded through CFEF member local education foundations, including the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation, Inc.
Pryor Middle School will be implementing a project called “STEM in the Garden”.
All components of this project will have a distinct focus on developing the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) components of the established garden by increasing the student’s interaction with community partners, in particular, the University of Florida’s Master Gardeners program. The project will begin by purchasing a weather station and garden tower. The Pryor Gardening Club, to better equip the garden for the new foot traffic that the weather station will bring, will also add fencing and pine straw to the established gardening area. This installation will occur during a group service project. The weather station is wireless and can send updates to the student’s classrooms about outside conditions, allowing all students to benefit from this addition.
To enhance the technology components of the gardening, this project will also use an electronic nutrient reader. This reader adds the use of technology to the gardening practice. The students will learn how to monitor the nutrients of the gardening and the composting bin from the Master Gardeners. The students will use the compositing bin by collecting straps from the schools’ cafeteria. The students in the gardening club and homeroom will also water the garden through a sustainable rain barrel. In addition to the Master Gardeners teaching the students how to monitor the nutrients in the raised gardens and composting bins, the Master Gardeners will also present to the students about how to incorporate vertical gardening and other urban gardening techniques. During this second presentation, the students will update their vertical garden and construct a vertical herb wall. This is vital for students at Pryor as most students live in an urban environment. It is also beneficial for students to work with community members that can share their experiences with these underserved students.
“We know that industries engaged in STEM disciplines will create a majority of high-value, high-wage jobs and within ten years, almost nine out of ten new jobs will require education beyond a high school degree,” said Joe York, AT&T Florida President. “We are pleased to make this contribution because Florida’s K-12 education foundations are well positioned to be the link between schools and local businesses for students, enabling them to build connections with potential employers in their communities, get a sense of what careers they offer and the skill sets they require.”
Another CFEF contributor has followed AT&T’s lead to provide a similar STEM program with local impact throughout Florida. The Motorola Solutions Foundation is funding ten larger-scale projects through a competitive grant process.
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About the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF):
The CFEF is the membership organization for Florida’s school district-wide local education foundations. Established in 1987, the CFEF seeks to advance student achievement in Florida by increasing private sector investment and involvement in public education. The CFEF now has 64 member foundations with 1,100 business and community leaders serving as volunteer board members. Collectively, they raise more than $64 million annually to support students, teachers, and schools through a variety of programs. The CFEF has provided more than $46 million to local education foundations since 2001 through various private- and public-sector partnerships, including the State of Florida School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program.
About the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation (OPSF):
The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation, Inc. (OPSF) is a not-for-profit community-based public schools foundation. It is a partnership between families, schools, community, and business. The Foundation is dedicated to supporting and extending the educational opportunities of all individuals within Okaloosa County. Since its establishment in 1995, OPSF has funded educational enrichment programs including teacher grants for unique programs, student scholars in the Take Stock in Children Program, community educational initiatives, and student and teacher recognition awards.