You make this possible! Thank you to our generous donors: parents, students, teachers, staff and administrators, and people just like you who value innovation in education. Your support will make it possible to fund more grants and special projects for students in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional Schools.
Our Excellence in Education grants are highlighted below. These grants are intended to fund innovative ideas in classroom teaching and are approved in conjunction with district administrators and supervisors. In addition, we have made many large, district-wide special grants over the past few years to fund hands-on science and engineering. They can be found on our Special Grants page
. Note: Only the main applicant is named in the grant descriptions below.
Excellence in Education Program Grants
Spring 2016 Grants
Zebra Fish Development
James Looney, High School North – Read More
Zebrafish are a common aquarium fish used in research laboratories to study embryo development. Because they are vertebrates and relatively easy to maintain, they can be used in the high school classroom for students to conduct hands-on laboratory activities in animal development. Students will harvest fertilized eggs and examine embryo development over a three to-four week period. Students will document zebrafish development using a variety of methods, such as measuring and charting growth, taking videos, and identifying the stages of development.
This proposal is to establish zebrafish colonies in each of the biology classrooms at High School North that can be used for classroom labs and independent projects. Expected results will be student summary reports on their zebrafish studies and an increased proficiency in student laboratory skills.
Michelle Bostwick, Maurice Hawk – Read More
The idea behind this project is to two-fold:
- to set aside a designated time to pose STEM challenges to students and allow them to work cooperatively using a variety of materials to explore their ideas.
- to have building materials and games available on a regular basis to allow students to develop strategic thinking skills.
The focus will be on problems generated through realistic math, science and engineering concerns using seasonal themes throughout the year. We will also attempt to generate solutions to problems characters have in fictional stories read and connect projects with the practical use of
non-fiction literature, a genre recently given more attention in our kindergarten program. A final goal will be for students to engage in a variety of building activities and playing games in order to further develop strategic thinking.
Picking Up Steam: Makers, Tinkers & Critical Thinkers
Shannon Grey, Millstone River – Read More
The philosophy of G&T programming provides for creating opportunities for all students to explore their interests and discover their passions. We currently offer enrichment opportunities in language arts, problem solving, research, and critical thinking. As we now have full-time G&T classrooms in each upper elementary building, we are looking for ways to expand our reach and expose more children to STEAM-related learning. Our students and parents have indicated a need for Increased attention to science and technology learning, and we, as a district, have identified a need for students to engage in open-ended, creative, and innovative learning opportunities. This grant would allow us to develop these opportunities by providing a Tinkerlab/Makerspace and STEAM-based engineering and design lessons at the upper elementary level. This will increase student competencies, skills, and dispositions for innovative thinking.
7th Grade Battle of the Books
Caitlin Bisson, Community – Read More
This grant is an extension of our successful and popular 6th grade Battle of the Books grant in 2013. Our goal is to foster an enthusiasm for reading and discussion outside the classroom. Students will be assigned teams, and each team will be in charge of reading a selection of novels. Throughout the project, teams will compete by answering comprehension questions. These questions will challenge them to analyze character interactions, cite text-evidence, and identify themes, big idea, and theories. Students will come to discussions prepared to engage in a collaborative discussion by reflecting on the text. The project will culminate in a final “Battle of the Books” competition, and the team who answers the most questions correctly will be declared the overall winner. We expect students to delve into genres they might not normally be interested in, work collaboratively with their team members, discuss novels, and generally work through the reading standards in a creative and enjoyable fashion.
For the Love of Poetry
Lorraine Sieben, High School North and Lori Hicks, Community – Read More
What we will be doing is two-fold – the first part is to again bring in the poets like we did this year during National Poetry Month and give the students the chance to hear all different types of poetry from different poets and also to get to learn some of their techniques and share their work. The second part of the program is for the students to work together on creating their own original poetry and organizing a day where they work collaboratively on poetry with one another and then present it in original and creative ways.
Fall 2015 Grants
Change Through Chocolate
Matthew Fleck, Community (expanded to Grover) – Read More
The goal of Change Through Chocolate is to fuse curricula across grade levels and content areas, providing students with a real-world learning experience surrounding the theme of custom-made chocolates to potentially be sold as a fundraising effort. Student teams will select an organization or cause that they would like to support. Teams will then design custom chocolates and packaging that could be sold to help raise money for their selected organization or cause. The proposed activities (outlined below) encompass a variety of scenarios in which students will be self-directed as they use critical thinking skills, collaboration, effective communication and problem solving strategies.
Students will design custom-made chocolates for an organization or cause to sell as a fundraiser. Teams will manage and construct everything from the shape of the chocolates to the color scheme of the package to the nutritional facts of their final product. Teams will also collaborate with a variety of content areas to receive expert advice on particular topics.
History Really is Alive!
Lisa Stamile, Special Education, Millstone River – Read More
Students will dress up in historical costumes to perform skits they have written to re-enact famous events from early American history. This will help them to experience the social studies curriculum on another level. They would practice their skills in being an effective communicator while collaborating with their classmates in writing and performing the skits. It will help students to develop an understanding of multiple perspectives and give them a connection to the past. Students in special education would practice their speech and language goals while building confidence in their communication skills.
Modeling the Molecular World
Katherine Heavers, HS South (expanded to HS North) – Read More
Having recently attended the National Association of Biology Teachers national convention in Providence, RI, I attended a workshop given by two scientists from the Center for Bio-Molecular Modeling of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. The physical models with which they provided us for use in the class were phenomenal. Many were 3D printed models of different tertiary and quaternary level proteins. In addition, we were provided with (not to keep, unfortunately) incredible 30 models for teaching and learning the process of DNA replication. They also make a model of transcription and translation. Models of these three processes are available in one kit called “Flow of Genetic Information.”
My project is quite simple: using the materials of this remarkable company, I would like to provide my students with a hands-on, kinesthetic experience of both replicating DNA and of transcription and translation into the structure of a protein.
The goal is to bring DNA to life for the students. The activities will be the students using the models to learn these detailed and complex molecular processes. The expected results are a deeper and more thorough understanding of DNA and the way it codes for life.
CMS Maker Ambassador Maker Fridays
Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, Community – Read More
The Maker Ambassador Makerspace Maker Fridays will help foster creative problem solving and and
student-driven inquiry in our students. The open source projects on the littleBits site will enable our
Maker Ambassadors to help other budding engineers on the development of their own creations, like
bubble blowing machines and handmade keytars. The materials for the makerspace will enrich the
school curriculum with hands-on maker projects and activities linked to the engineering practices of
the Next Generation Science Standards. The student will be encouraged to present their inventions in
a school maker faire and record their inventions through a video blog to share with the community.
All of the kits are small, sturdy, and require very little maintenance or storage space. The Maker
Ambassadors program at CMS currently has over 100 students enrolled. These students self-select
this enrichment track and design their own engineering projects throughout the school year. They
also serve as the creativity ambassadors for the school and work with students and teachers alike
spreading the maker mindset. The students plan monthly sessions called Maker Fridays, where
anyone in the school community can come explore, play, and build. Stanford University’s design
thinking model serves as the overarching framework for the Maker Ambassador program. Teachers
and students alike will be trained on circuits and electricity activities by engaging with the littleBits
and Makey Makey boards and the makerspace will serve as a hub for creative design for all students.
Students can also engage in basic programming with our robot friends, Dot and Dash, by coding
specific tasks in robot challenges.
Spring 2015 Grants
Innovative Problem Solvers
Rachel Farrow, Village – Read More
The use of picture books in math is an incredible way to engage learners of all ages. The level of discussion around a character solving a mathematical problem is exciting and the solutions tend to more creative. The problems that lie within the story are rich and children find connections that reach farther than a just a word problem on a page. Incorporating text during math instruction can be implemented to introduce a new math topic, to pose a problem and solution scenario, as an independent math-learning center, or to even use as a writing model.
Carol Murphy, Village – Read More
Mountain Math Kits are colorful, year-round, supplemental, spiral review programs. Mountain Math reviews the concepts taught at each specific grade level. Mountain Math allows you to review and preview concepts on a weekly basis or more often if you prefer. Mountain Math kits include enough concept cards to provide adequate review throughout the year. The concept cards are printed on the highest quality card stock available. Instructions and concept sheets are also included.
Lorraine Sieben and Lori Hicks, Community and HS North – Read More
A collaborative project between tenth grade and eighth grade in which students will work together on crafting and appreciating every aspect of poetry. The culminating activity will be a mini festival which will be hosted by the Geraldine Dodge foundation with poets from the Tri-State area.
Podcasting at Village
Stacey Lindes, Village – Read More
There is an emphasis in education for students to find their voice and share their message. Podcasts are an increasing popular way for students, teachers and others to share their ideas, passions and experiences with a larger, more global and connected audience. With the equipment purchased, students and teachers will be able to share their ideas through podcasting. Activities will include pull out sessions during lunch and recess time where students can script and record their podcasts. Podcast content can range from book reviews to interviews to shows sharing the happenings at Village. Students will gain confidence in their written and oral communication skills as they prepare and practice writing scripts and recording their voices for their podcast.
A 21st Century Environment Creates Engaged, Self-Directed Learners
Beth Mansfield, Town Center – Read More
Our goal is to create a classroom environment that promotes student choice and 21st Century Competencies. Students would be able to choose from a variety of different seating arrangements throughout the day to promote engagement, creativity and problem-solving. This flexible environment will allow our students to complete all activities with more choice and collaboration. As teachers, it will also allow us to explore different modes in presenting the curriculum in order to ensure greater engagement and success for our students.
Overall, we are expecting our students to become more flexible and self-directed learners who are able to advocate for themselves and make choices that maximize their learning potential.
Fall 2014 Grants
A World in a Single Classroom
Robert Corriveau, HS North – Read More
The ninth graders of High School North will order aquarium gravel, pickle jars, crushed coral, hair algae, Amano Shrimp, Malaysian Trumpet Snails, Lilaeopsls Novaezeiandiae, and pH-specific water, and utilize these materials to create self-sustaining Ecospheres. The materials will be put In appropriate amounts to distribute to each ‘doityourselfkit for the 1st graders. This will be performed by the ninth graders in class before the boxes are delivered to Wicoff. The first grade students will receive step-by-step Instructions, basic enough for the 1st graders, to construct the Ecospheres under teacher supervision. 25 boxes will be delivered to Wicoff, while 25 Ecosphere projects will remain at High School North for the ninth graders to observe. Under teacher supervision, students will follow the instructions provided in the teacher resource to construct the Ecosphere, and observe the closed ecosystems for the remainder of the school year.
Our mission is to teach younger students the abstract concept of an ecosystem and abiotic factors that affect living organisms in closed ecosystems. While not necessarily able to deliver complicated ideas to first graders, conceptualizations such as ablotic factors and blotic factors and energy flow can be introduced In simplified form. First graders may observe, for example, that sunlight directly affects the growth of plant life in the water, and that shrimp live off the algae that grow inside the jar. By providing the first graders with Ecospheres, they develop a better understanding of how life forms Inside the jar depend on each other to live, similar to how life forms on Earth depend on other organisms to live. This meets 1st grade learning standards by allowing students to observe interactions between organisms in their natural habitat, and 9th graders to take part in creating an ecosystem, which will further their understanding of what makes an ecosystem stable. At the ninth grade level, students are expected to know basic concepts such as photosynthesis, abiotic and biotic variables that affect ecosystems, nutrient cycling, and oxygen and carbon cycling. Both schools will benefit from being able to observe their own Ecospheres, since they will discover how organisms provide for and take from other organisms. In order to promote excellence in the field of science, students should be able to learn about biology not only in high school, but at younger ages as well.
We Video, You Video, We All Video!
Susan Kluxen, Community – Read More
This is a year-long project for 7th grade students. This common-core aligned project teaches and assesses student’s research, writing, and historical thinking skills while also teaching how to be an effective communicator in the 21st century through digital storytelling. When completed, the student-created videos will made available and shared with the WW-P community through: the school’s TV broadcasting system, the district’s cable channel, and be digitally archived. The culmination of the students work with digital storytelling will be a historical documentary.
Students will create public service announcements related to their community service project and interdisciplinary social studies and IRLA units. In the culminating project, 7th grade students will participate in an interdisciplinary end of the year project where they research, write, and create historical documentaries. To create these documentaries, students will work with their social studies and IRLA teachers using historical thinking skills to analyze primary and secondary sources and integrate audio and visual information.
In March and April, students will produce a documentary as a product of their interdisciplinary research. In June, the documentaries will be showcased at a 7th grade Expo.
Student Council Leadership Training
Brandy Moncada, HS South – Read More
With the grant money, we will invite a speaker named Scott Backovich to High School South to run a student leader training program that he calls Engage Everyone with the school’s Student Council. Engage Everyone is an in-depth, activities-based training designed to boost campus morale and climate. The workshop focuses on creating an entire culture of positivity and support on campus. Mr. Backovich has already had an impact on schools nationwide through educating student leaders in ways to generate active participation in school activities. He is known for speaking at a level that students are able to connect with, as he himself is in his 20’s, and is able to reach students in new and innovative ways while simultaneously calling them to action to take on their leadership roles in their communities. We hope that this workshop with Mr. Backovich will permit the Student Council to act as a more effective unit, provide the Council with fresh ideas, and inspire the members of the Council to strive to enhance their individual leadership qualities. We expect to see an immediate change in the way the Council thinks and plans events, which will be reflected in our upcoming projects. The idea is to “engage everyone,” not just the students who typically participate. This project aligns with our 21st century competencies. The students involved will be effective communicators, collaborative team members, creative and practical problem solvers and responsible citizens by working together with Mr. Bockovich to reach out to all students at WWPHSS.
Spring 2014 Grants
Fueling or Fooling? – Food Choices
Alicia Buck, Community – Read More
This project aims to increase food choice awareness among students of Community Middle School (CMS.) Food Day will be a catalyst for a three-month food choice awareness campaign. This proposal will extend what the middle-level students already separately learn and discuss in Life Skills, Health, and Science classes. Fueling or Fooling? Food Choices! will activate prior knowledge, connect learning to life, show how connections among middle-level curriculum, and empower the informed student to make better independent food decisions.
Do You See What I See?
Danielle Buggé, HS South – Read More
Children are born naturally inquisitive, constantly making observations of the world they live in and forming conclusions. In keeping with district goals and Common Core Standards science students are encouraged to design and implement authentic investigations that demonstrate their ability to transfer learning from classroom labs to real world situations. Over the course of the 2013–2014 school year, environmental science students have been constructing terrestrial and aquatic rovers to explore the local ecosystem. As the students moved from the classroom into their community, they wanted to collect data from the perspective of the rover. In order to change their vantage point, we needed to put eyes on the rovers. As the students attempted to be creative and practical problem solvers, it was discovered that cell phones and other cameras were too heavy and cumbersome to benefit data collection. The acquisition of lightweight GoPro cameras affords students the opportunity to virtually explore locations they presently cannot, such as underwater at Grovers Mill Pond, and conduct experiments from new vantage points with equipment that is designed for these types of environments, movement, and experiments.
Lauren Gallagher, Special Education, Millstone River – Read More
This grant will provide funds to purchase ten fishing rods and assorted fishing supplies for a multiple disabilities (MD) classroom in the Millstone River School. The overall goal of this project is to provide students in my MD classroom the opportunity to have real life, hands-on fishing experiences with their peers, learn about the diversity of nature in the Millstone River Watershed, and enhance their self-esteem by contributing living specimens for the indoor Millstone River Ecosystem (MRE) teaching center, a 150 gallon aquarium located in the front lobby of the school. The physical act of fishing also promotes appropriate outdoor large and small motor physical activity that is neither overly strenuous nor competitive. The expected results would allow students to increase their ability to socially interact with other students, connect what they learn about life cycles and ecosystems in class with the outside world, and understand how healthy ecosystems are a valuable resource. Ideally students and their families may pursue fishing and further benefit from the physical, mental and emotional rewards it offers as well as connecting them more closely with others.
EDP Kidz Science
Daniela Nita, EDP – Read More
Giving the great interest in science manifested by our students and their parents, Ihave designed and developed a Science program that Is intended to bring more opportunity to the afterschool curriculum, reinforce skills taught In schools, reinforce common core standards, diversify the ways that students experience STEM learning, increase familiarity with science, and offer a friendly and relaxed learning environment.
I will conduct monthly workshops for the afterschool frontline staff, where they will learn hands-on science or engineering projects. At the end of the workshop, each afterschool site will receive a project guide, a material list, and supplies for the next project. Each trained afterschool staff will provide at their site hands-on science programming, twice a month, for two groups of students enrolled into the program. Pictures documenting different phases of the ongoing projects will be taken during the scheduled activities and presented for feedback during the site sharing at the monthly workshops.
Fall 2013 Grants
What’s Lurking in Grovers Mill Pond?
Danielle Buggé, HS South – Read More
The exploration of the rich aquatic ecosystem at Grovers Mill Pond will provide Environmental Science students the opportunity to conduct an authentic investigation about the impact of their community on a local water system. Students will work in teams to tackle engineering tasks as they use SeaPerch vehicle kits to design, build, test, and implement an underwater rover investigation in this bionetwork. Students will evaluate the impact of humans on the local environment and understand how their findings fit into regional, national, and global studies.
Fairy Tales with a Twist
Sue Ferguson & Randye McBride, Hawk and HS South – Read More
A workshop on the structure and elements of fairy tales will provide second graders with a greater understanding of this genre and an appreciation of its value in teaching life lessons, which they can apply to their own writing. High school art students will explore this genre as an example of verbal and visual storytelling. High school students will work with second graders to create their own twists to well-known fairy tales.
Science Ambassador Program
Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, K-12 Science Supervisor – Read More
The Science Ambassador Program will help capture the youthful enthusiasm and inquisitive nature of our science students. The Ambassadors will not only conduct their own research, but share their work with the community through blogs, video podcasts, and by mentoring elementary students. High School students will create terrestrial rovers with elementary students with open source projects and Little Bits to explore their ecosystems and discuss ways to counter human impacts on local natural systems.
The Acid Rain Falls also on the Plains(boro) and West Windsor too
Sven Strnad & Vickie Gurzau, Millstone River School – Read More
Students hear about acid rain being a global issue but is it a local issue as well? Using their new pH meter and the knowledge gained from their Mixtures and Solutions science unit, fifth grade environmental scientists will be measuring the pH of rain and snow that falls on their community as well as determining the direction of its origin. Is it more acidic than “normal” rain? Does precipitation coming from the West have the same impact on West Windsor and Plainsboro as precipitation coming from the Northeast? This project will create a greater student connection to the global issues being introduced in the social studies curriculum as well as providing them an opportunity to be scientists conducting original research of value to their own community.
Spring 2013 Grants
- Danielle Buggé, HS South, Picture This
- Helen Chang and Michelle Pellecchia, Millstone River School, Invention Convention and ExploraVision
- Mary Hasler, Marnie Dratch and Amy Meredith, Community, Battle of the Books
- Jennifer Knoblock and 1st grade teachers, Town Center, Books to Home! Take Home Reading Program
- Regina Lertch and Kelly Borup, Wicoff, Splash into Summer Reading
Past Special Grants & Projects
- StarLab Portable Planetarium (2012 to Present)
- Race to Nowhere (2011)
- Outdoor Education(2011)
- Woodrow Wilson School Public Affairs Forum (2006-2011)
- Liberty Science Center Forensics Summer Camp (2009)
- WW-P High School Robotics Team (2009-2013)
- Summer Math Program(2009)
- Family Science Day(January 2009)
- D.A.N.C.E. DanceVision(2008)
- Town Center Hit the Target Summer Reading Program (2007)
- High School South Hall of Honor (2005)