Dana Bale, our middle school science teacher, secured three grants over the summer – gifts that will keep on giving this school year and beyond! Here’s a quick overview of the environmental and outdoor grants St. Martha received:
- The KY NEED Energy Group awarded St. Martha a $200 mini-grant that allows for environmental energy improvements.
- St. Martha received ecoSTEM Resource Kits from the Captain Planet Foundation. The kits provide lessons and materials to facilitate using the environment as a context for applying knowledge. Each kit includes cutting-edge project techniques, 3-dimensional learning, citizen science, and the best materials and equipment identified for each project – equipping educators getting started with project-based learning.
- The Kentucky Association for Environmental Education awarded St. Martha a $250 mini-grant and access to their workshop. Mrs. Bale and Mrs. Duckworth attended the 2018 Outdoor Learning Symposium (OLS) where they learned the ways research-based outdoor learning increases student engagement in and out of the classroom.
Benefits of Outdoor Learning
Here are some of the “gifts” associated with research-based outdoor learning:
- Better grades
- Better health
- Decreased stress levels
- Increased motivation
- Better attitudes about the environment
- Better overall behavior
- Enhanced communication skills
- Increase in outdoor skills
How the Grants will be used at St. Martha
Our 6thand 7thgrade classes recently completed units on conservation at home and at school. Proposals for environmental conversation at St. Martha were presented to Mr. Bickett and Father Seejo for approval. The funds (and associated materials) will finance the projects selected. They are:
- Rain barrel– containers connected to downspouts to collect rainwater runoff from your roof. Rainwater collected in a rain barrel can be used for many activities, including watering plants, gardens and lawns.
- Compost bin– an outdoor container in which garden refuse and other organic waste is deposited in order to produce compost. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise disposed of as waste products and produces a soil conditioner.
- Raised garden beds– great for growing small plots of veggies and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage, and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails.
- Vermiculture bin– Vermicompost (vermi-compost, vermiculture) is the product of the composting process using various species of worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms, to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.
The class also plans to refresh the Mary Grotto near the parish office as part of their efforts.
The latest grant Mrs. Bale has secured is for the $1200 VEX EDR Junior High model. The VEX EDR system immerses learners in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts and problem solving – all while building robots. Mrs. Bale’s goal is to use the robots to enhance the environmental curriculum of her middle school science classes once the robotics teams have completed their competitions.