According to Wylie ISD Education Foundation Executive Director Lori C. Villareal,
The roar from the gym was almost deafening. Instead of being packed with hundreds of cheering spectators, the roaring fans in McMillan Junior High’s gym were leaf blowers attached to dozens of student-made hovercrafts. Mrs. Joanna Robertson’s 8th grade STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) classes were giving Newton’s Laws a test run.
Wanting to bring the required curriculum to life, Mrs. Robertson sought funding from Wylie ISD Education Foundation. The Foundation works to enhance education by funding creative instructional ideas. Development Chair, Dr. Rhonda Blackburn, shares, “We have great success in getting financial support from our local businesses and teachers themselves. North Texas Giving Day generates such a fun energy encouraging our community at-large to get involved. Everyone loves our mission, they just don’t always know how to support it.”
Each year approximately $100,000 is distributed in grants to educators to support their enhanced initiative. Mrs. Robertson reports, “My goal was to expose my students to opportunities to apply classroom knowledge and think critically through problems. This hovercraft project is more in-depth than what is required for unit exams and STAAR. This was a way to bring to life the laws of physics.”
The lesson centered on understanding the relationship between force, motion, and energy. Students were separated into teams of four per hovercraft, each assigned a specific set of responsibilities. The teams were given building instruction, an opportunity to test their craft, and time to trouble shoot. On ride day 130 students trekked down to the junior high gymnasium for the final run. This day was full of success, some struggles, and lots of laughs. A few weeks later, as unit results were revealed, this project also proved to yield higher test results.
Funding Grants For Teachers allows both an investment in the students’ education and the morale of a motivated teacher. Since our first year of participation in 2012, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has offered Wylie ISD Education Foundation an exciting way to inspire local giving with a sense of urgency. Much like Newton’s Law of Motion, Giving Day acts as a force, thrusting our usual efforts into accelerated success.
* Photo credit provided provided Lori C. Villarreal ** Photo credit: Joanna Robertson
In ten years, Communities Foundation of Texas’ North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $240 million into the North Texas community. In 2018, more than $48 million was raised through more than 157,000 gifts benefiting over 2,700 area nonprofits.