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$30,000 in Bright Ideas Grants Awarded to Teachers

Tri-County EMC recently surprised 25 teachers in Baldwin, Jasper, Jones and Putnam Counties with educational grants totaling $30,000. Since 2008, Tri-County Electric Membership Cooperative has provided more than $210,000 in grants to local schools. Funded by unclaimed capital credits, the grants help teachers improve education in their classrooms through innovative projects that would otherwise not be funded. Georgia certified public or private school teachers in grades Pre-K through 12 in Baldwin, Jones, Putnam, Jasper, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties qualify to apply.

This year, outside judges evaluated the 101 blind applications that were submitted for innovation, goals, objectives, student involvement and budget. In the Tri-County service area, a total of 25 grants were funded with a grand total of $30,000 distributed to schools. Thanks to all teachers who applied in 2017-2018 and we look forward to seeing your applications in 2018-2019. Click here to see photos of each grant presentation. Descriptions of each project are included below. 



Susan McGill, Baldwin County High School
3D Printing in the Science Classroom: $1,492
With this project, students will use a 3D printer to develop different types of scientific models including cells, molecules, organisms and more. Students will develop critical thinking skills as they design models on the CAD software (engineering program), test their designs on paper, and then finally create their 3D printed models. In addition to demonstrating understanding of the scientific concept, students will also be exposed to new coding programs and a new manufacturing technique.

Brittany Nichols, Lakeview Primary
Learning with Legos: $1,477.98
With this project, students will use LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 to engage in a hands-on STEM learning environment. Students will learn to build models around themes that integrate brainstorming, analyzing cause and effect, making observations during testing, displaying and communicating data, and creating working models with effective programming using the WeDo 2.0 Software. Students will learn twenty first century skills while also being exposed to basic programming and coding, which allows students to create movement in their robots representing what is happening in real life.


Bonnie Garvin, Jasper County High School
Constitution Escape Room: $352
With this project, students will learn about the US Constitution through an Escape Room Lab. They will be "locked" in and classroom and be given a series of questions, puzzles, and challenges concerning the US Constitution. Their answers will earn them clues and combinations to various locks within the room, ultimately leading them to the "key" for escape.

Patty Cole, Jasper County High School
Alzheimer and Dementia Simulation and Community Outreach: $1,500
The insight provided by the Virtual Dementia Tour® (VDT) Comprehensive Program will alter perspectives and change the way Healthcare Sciences Students approach caregiving. The goal of this program is ultimately to improve students’ ability to provide compassionate, relationship-based, well informed patient care and reduce the number of challenging situations an increased connection to those they serve.

Tyson Harty, Jasper County High School
An Electric Racecar Designed, Built and Driven by Students: $1,500
Using this grant, students will learn how to design, source parts and use key engineering concepts to build and electric racecar. This project will combine environmental science, construction and elecro-mechanical engineering while allowing students to work together as a team. The students will compete with the completed vehicle at the Georgia Technology Student Association Fall Conference.


Mandie Behling, Jasper County Middle School
Technology Student Association: $1,500
This grant will be used to start a Technology Student Association at the middle school. Students will be encouraged to be creative and innovative through building and designing projects including soldering, building solar vehicles, creating catapults and more.

Shelly Tingler, Washington Park Elementary School
Kindling the Fire of Reading: $1,429.74
The Bright Ideas Grant will provide technology based instruction to at risk, low socioeconomic status, and English Language Learner students to improve their reading skills. Students will use the Amazon Kindle Fires equipped with e-books and assistive reading software during the instructional day. This project will increase their knowledge, participation, and attitude at school.



Lisa Davis, Jones County High School
3D Printing in Math: $855.47
Students will use a 3D printer to apply mathematic principles and create objects. Being able to create and design mathematical functions will personalize the learning process for students and increase their engagement level. Concepts that are difficult for students to grasp will be more easily understood with hands-on activities.

Kirstie Knighton, Jones County High School
Literacy on Fire: $1,499.30
In order to improve literacy levels across the school, students will be allowed to listen to or read a grade-level appropriate book of their choice for the first 10 minutes of class each day. Students will be tested on the content through MAP Reading Tests, student conferences and other formative assessments. The Bright Ideas Grant funds will be used to purchase Kindle Fire Tablets and an Audible subscription.

Scarlett Scoville, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Growing Solutions Using Hydroponics: $963.45
By purchasing a hydroponics system, students will have a hands-on opportunity to observe a potential solution to providing food for a growing population while conserving one of earth’s most precious resources - water. This will require students to consider a real world problem and potential solutions relating to water and soil conservation.

Vickie Thigpen, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Literacy in Science Content: $1,003.61
This Bright Ideas Grant will be used to purchase reading materials related to science. With these books, students will be able to master reading for information, knowledge and understanding while learning important STEM lessons.  Students will be tested on the science-themed books using Accelerated Reader tests.

Shannon Smith, Clifton Ridge Middle School
Virtual Reality: $1,469.68
Students will get a 360 degree view of the places studied in Social Studies using Virtual Reality. By allowing students to take “field trips” and create presentations based on their “travels”, this project will bring history and geography to life for students.

Angela Watts, Gray Elementary School
Literacy through the Senses Garden: $1,500
This grant will be used to create a garden reflecting five senses for elementary school students: A pizza garden for students to taste, a creeping sweat pea vine for students to smell, outdoor musical insturments intermingled with plants for sound, succulents for touch and flowers in an octagon to challenge students to see fractions. The project’s mission is to create a space for students to participate in STEAM lessons that increase literacy.

Heather Jackson, Gray Elementary School
Versatile Learning for Kindergarteners with VersaTiles: $1,050.65
Students will solve problems and check their work independently using puzzle-like cases and plastic pieces that flip to show a pattern when the answer is correct. By using VersaTiles and Hot Dots, this project will increase phonics, reading and language skills as well as increasing math and science skills.

Amy Thompson, Turner Woods Elementary School
Stand Back -  STEM-atist at Work: $717.30
This grant will be sued to purchase STEM related materials to inspire creative thinking, teach problem-solving strategies, provide hands-on learning opportunities and help students develop a love for science, technology, engineering and math. STEM lessons will be taught and evaluated each week using the materials purchased.

Liz Allison, Wells Elementary
Are You Sure I Can Use A Calculator?: $1,467.45
This grant will be used to purchase TI-85 calculators to be used with games for students to work on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This will allow students to master the foundation of mathematical skills and provide an opportunity for a deeper understanding of basic mathematical concepts.

June Lassetter, Wells Elementary
Let’s Max Out With MobyMax!: $897.40
This grant will be used to purchase a MobyMax program to enable students to work at differentiated levels to improve mastery skills in Reading, Math, Science, Phonics, Social Studies, Literature and Writing. The goal of the project is to help struggling students decrease the learning gaps they have so that all students are performing at grade level by year end.


Gregory Brickell, Putnam County Elementary School
Corn  Hole for  A Cause $1,163.94
With this grant, students will construct Corn Hole Game Boards using a theme from one of the Georgia Standards of Excellence in Science and Social Studies. Students will use these boards to compete in the Corn Hole Olympics, where students will get points for each goal and each correct answer. This project is designed to improve math, reading, writing, art, creativity, teamwork and project management skills.

Rhett Roberts, Putnam County High School
Intro to Video Game Programming: $1,359.84
With this grant, students will learn the basics of video game programming through the use of Raspberry Pi computers and the Scratch programming language. By using an enjoyable method students can relate to, they will learn the basics of computer programming and be able to produce a basic video game.

Ida Jackson, Putnam County Middle School
Globetrotters: $1,460
To spur interest in social studies, students will create puppets from Mexico, Canada, Australia, England and Brazil. Students will write a short skit or narrative for their puppet based on life in the home country of the puppet. At the culmination of the project, students will perform a life puppet show for the community.

Becky Nipper, Putnam County Middle School
Voyages with Virtual Reality: $1,481
Using Virtual Reality headsets and devices, students will explore the deepest oceans, journey through the Earth's atmosphere to visit the International Space Station or even visit war-torn Syria to experience what life is like for other children in other parts of the world. Through a series of interactive lessons utilizing the virtual reality technology, students will create diverse projects based on their voyages.

Wendy Little, Putnam County Middle School
Breakout Box EDU: It’s Time for Something New!: $918
Using a concept similar to an Escape Room, students will collaborate in groups to solve clues and work together to beat the clock in an effort to open a special box with multiple locks, keys, and combinations. To gain access to locks, students will answer social studies related questions along the way, strengthening their knowledge of the subject.

Dawn Wicker, Putnam County Primary School
Cardio Drumming: Not Just Your Average PE Class: $1,444.18
Using a fitness ball on a stand as a drum, students will participate in active movements and keep beats on the ball using drumsticks. This noncompetitive game will build confidence and self-expression while incorporating math and music.

Tricia Coxwell, Putnam County Primary School
Fun with Osmo: $1,333.81
With the help of the iPad and Osmo Learning System, students will master reading and math standards through hands-on learning. Students will also learn critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and collaborations kills.

Skylar Holder, Putnam County Primary School
Stemming in Kindergarten: $861.95
This grant will purchase STEM activities and materials, students will have the opportunity to work together using science, technology, engineering and math to create fun engaging structures and participate in solving abstract problems. These STEM activities will provide hands-on and minds-on experiences to, not only make learning fun, but to also encourage higher order thinking.



Use the arrows on the album below to see photos of each grant presentation. 

2017-2018 Bright Ideas Grants