In addition to our Excellence in Education grants, the foundation also makes special, larger grants to the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District to fund grade or district-wide programs. These grants are requested either by a group of teachers or by curriculum supervisors, and are approved by our Board of Trustees if they fit our mission.
Our most recent special grants include:
Mind and Body Whole Student Program
This grant, totaling almost $7,000, utilizes heart rate monitors in high school Physical Education classes to provide feedback to students about their physical activity participation during class. The purpose of incorporating heart rate monitors is to gain a greater understanding of high school students’ actual physical activity level (versus perceived activity level) by using a heart rate monitor during physical education class and to determine if an achieved level of physical activity has a positive impact upon overall brain functioning.
This program will involve several curriculum areas, including Math, Health, Physical Education, and Science.
High School Engineering
This grant of $28,000 is our largest to date, and benefits all of our high school students. With this grant, we purchased equipment for a fabrication lab for the new course “Principles of Engineering.” High School South had been without a lab since the construction of the New Theatre in 2007. Our funding allows a consistent experience for students at both high schools and enabled the offering of this popular and important new course.
It is the goal of this course to challenge and engage students through a broad range of engineering topics, including mechanical, structural and, electrical with a focus on computer programming and artificial intelligence. Students will be responsible for the development of advanced computational and robotic systems through the application of computer programs in various languages.
Integrating Math & Computers using Pro-Bots
This grant, totaling almost $17,000, will benefit all fifth grade students in the district. This grant will fund a program utilizing Pro-Bots to integrate mathematics and computer programming. Cleverly disguised as a race car, Pro-Bots offer students an enticing, engaging, and hands-on experience with Logo programming as well as robotic controls. This builds on our successful funding of the mini-maker program for all fourth graders last year.
StarLab – Fall 2012 to Present
The Foundation has proudly funded the StarLab portable planetarium program since its inception in 2012. The portable planetarium, housed in an inflatable gray dome, spends a week at each elementary school during the school year. Every 3rd grade student participates in two interactive classes in the StarLab. In the astronomy segment, the students learn about the changes in the sky during each season, including the position of the sun and constellations. In the language arts component, the students learn about the myths behind the constellations, relating them to the beliefs of many cultures.
This program is extremely popular with both the teachers and the students. We’re currently working with the faculty to see if can extend this program to other grades.
Mini-Makers – 2014 to Present
In the fall of 2014, the Foundation made its largest grant to date to the district. Below is an article that Rebecca McClelland-Crawley wrote about this grant:
Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, Ed.D., NBCT
PRISM Facilitator Community Middle SchoolThanks to a substantial grant by the West Windsor-Plainsboro Education Foundation to support STEAM efforts in WW-P, our students are finding ways to invent and think outside of the box. The littleBits, electronic modules that snap together magnetically, have found their way into the hands of 1st through 12th graders. I am currently using the littlebits with my middle school students who serve as Maker Ambassadors to both our school and the upper elementary school next door. Our 4th grade teachers use the littleBits within the existing curriculum to investigate the properties of electricity.Students may build model flashlights, test different materials for conductivity, and create circuits that illustrate concepts of energy transfer, energy conservation, and the conversion or “loss” of energy to heat. The littleBits supplement our existing curriculum, where students investigate circuits, but also support the engineering practices of the Next Generation Science Standards. Danielle Bugge uses the littleBits with her HSS Environmental Science class to develop terrestrial rovers and partners with Lisa Rizziello’s classroom at Hawk to mentor students on ecology and engineering.
When Russell Wray and I developed the grant proposal, we wanted to put innovative materials in the hands of the students. We recognized as that there is an ongoing need to foster a collaborative culture of creativity, innovation, and experimentation at a young age to encourage students to become interested and aware of engineering as a potential career field. Now all of our 4th grade teachers have 4 student sets each (4 base kits and 4 premium kits) that they can take out from the Media Center at any time to incorporate in their routine as they see fit. While many of the tinkering activities of littleBits align to our electricity unit, they were not purchased exclusively for this purpose. We want to support our learners with creative tools to expand the way they think about the world. Through the support of our Education Foundation, we are able to inspire a maker mentality in our schools.
Rebecca McLelland-Crawley, Ed.D.
Community Middle School