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Posted 4/18/23

The Bedford County Learning Academy (BCLA) and Community High School (CHS) have been awarded grants from the Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc. (BVI), a TVA …

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The Bedford County Learning Academy (BCLA) and Community High School (CHS) have been awarded grants from the Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc. (BVI), a TVA retiree organization. 

The goal is to develop science, technology, engineering, and math education projects to help spark student interest in future careers in STEM-related fields. Teachers across TVA’s seven-state region applied for funding of up to $5,000 for projects, and 238 applications were selected.

Ian Stitzel, career & technical education teacher at CHS, received a $5,000 grant for robotics kits, and Amanda McBride, BCLA teacher, received a $1,500 grant for a project-based learning platform.

“We are excited to have this funding to support hands-on activities and programs that help students develop skills that can apply to real-world problem solving,” said McBride. Stitzel added, “We want to open doors to high quality, rewarding jobs for our students, and the grant will help us introduce them to these subjects from a young age.”

The robotics kits will provide CHS STEM students the opportunity to learn programming and problem-solving skills.

“Currently, we have just scratched the surface on robotics and could really use a boost to further extend the program,” stated Stitzel. “Students will get a hands-on experience within the field of robotics to better serve them for further post-secondary training/schooling.”

BCLA will use a project-based learning (PBL) system that will engage students in core academics while providing STEM opportunities, helping students work in a collaborative manner by problem solving and thinking critically.

“Not only will students explore community problems but also systemic issues with energy and the environment,” commented McBride. “The Bulldog PBL adventures will be student-led, researched, and students will have full ownership of their projects. Students can use many of these materials again and again for a wide variety of STEM-based scenarios such as sustainable city models, healthy lunch menus, designing and coding apps, developing playable electrical board games and so much more!”

“I am super excited for these teachers to receive these Battelle STEM grants and for two years in a row,” said BCS Grants Supervisor Tiffany Swain. “Ms. McBride has probably received the most small/individual grants of any singular teacher in Bedford County Schools! She has excellent grant writing skills and shares her success with her students. Both teachers are obviously very passionate about STEM education and their students.”

Schools which are awarded grants must receive their power from a local power company served by TVA. BCLA is served by Shelbyville Power, Water, and Sewer Systems. CHS is served by Duck River Electric Membership Corporation.

“Shelbyville Power, Water & Sewer Systems is glad to partner with TVA to support STEM education for the students of our community,” said SPWS General Manager Jason Reese.

“We congratulate these schools for receiving the TVA STEM grants and for their efforts to inspire students through creative plans and projects that center around the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” says Duck River Electric’s President and CEO Scott Spence. “STEM education sparks interest and creativity in learning for all ages of youth and helps prepare them to become the innovators and inventors of tomorrow.”

Since 2018, TVA and BVI have awarded nearly $5 million in STEM grants to support local education.

“TVA is committed to supporting STEM education to help develop today’s students into tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and IT professionals,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and chief external relations officer.

 “It’s inspiring to be able to contribute to the innovators of the next generation.”

A full list of grant recipients, and information on how to apply for a future STEM grant can be found at www.tvastem.com.