Once a week some 9 and 10-year-olds at Riverview Elementary School, become junior engineers. The fourth graders in Callie Ross’ class team up to make their own mobile dream gadgets using Legos. This “Makerspace” learning experience is possible thanks to a Great Falls Public Schools Foundation Discovery Grant of $1,970.
By designing, coding, building and testing their tractors, robotic rovers, grabber arms, and other motorized creations the students learn 21st-century skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
“The kids love it,” Ross said. “The possibilities with this are endless. Our curriculum hadn’t been set up for student success in those STEAM (science- technology- engineering- art- math) areas.”
Another benefit of the Discovery Grant Makerspace program, called WEDO 2.0, is students learn how to collaborate, Ross said. “They are so much more willing to compromise and work in groups and do what’s best for the group and they learn together.”
Ross wrote, submitted, and received funding for this creative project as part of the Foundation’s Discovery Grant 2018-19 Program. The awards aim at encouraging innovative and creative projects in Great Falls Public Schools.
The Foundation has awarded Discovery and Innovation grants totaling over $785K for 247 school projects since starting the program in 2011.
The goal is to provide opportunities for students to learn in new environments, experience creative teaching methods, participate in out of school experiences, or have new equipment that will provide enrichment and support to their education. Teachers submit individual requests to receive funding for their exciting programs. The process is competitive and awards range from $500 to $3,000 for a Discovery Grant and up to $10,000 for Innovation Grant projects.
Dave Crum, Executive Director for the Foundation says “The Foundation is committed to enhancing education in classrooms and buildings across the District. Teachers and staff are encouraged to submit requests for small and large projects that will improve teaching and learning.”
Award winners for the 2019-20 school year are listed on our website. See Programs – Teacher Grants
Grant Applications for the 2020-2021 School year – Open December 9, 2019
Community donors and businesses that want to contribute to educational innovations such as the Grant Programs may contact the GFPS Foundation at 406-268-7340.