Grants fund special projects for BISD students and staff

Will Humber of Odom Academy won a grant to purchase a new incubator and

The Beaumont Public Schools Foundation’s grant caravan visited local campuses Friday, May 3, to “grant” the wishes of a number of students and staff of BISD. Several grants were distributed during surprise presentations to the student and staff winners who applied for funding to be used for special projects at their schools.

Four students from Smith Middle School received grant awards along with six staff members from various campuses around Beaumont.

Will Humber of Odom Academy in Beaumont requested a grant for funds to purchase a new incubator and a goat shelter for agricultural projects in which his students are involved. For the “Here a Chick, There a Chick, Everywhere a Chick, Chick” project, chickens already at the school will lay eggs which will then be placed in the new incubator and observed by students. Humber has about 20 chickens on loan from his son. Students built a shelter for the birds and care for them. They are able to purchase their own chickens as part of the endeavor, as well. Humber said a goal is to add Boer goats to the on-campus animal population to teach kids practical skills and give them a rare opportunity to interact with animals they would not normally encounter. He said the students will build shelters similar to the chicken house but larger in scale in order to house the goats.

Humber and his students already have an organic garden at Odom, and they sell the produce from a storefront with the name “Odom’s Organics.” 

“The students built the entire front porch of the store,” Humber said proudly. 

Girls Scouts Troop 4670 donated 23 fruit trees growing in the orchard section of the garden. Humber said anyone is welcome to purchase the organically grown vegetables. They have tomatoes, apples, limes, corn, eggs from organically fed free-roaming hens and more available at the on-campus store.

Awards distributed Friday were as follows:

Maurine Gray Language Arts Award — I’ve Got Reading in the Bag, Lisa Mary Nolan, staff award, Dishman Elementary: Struggling second grade readers and their parents can work together to improve their reading skills when they have their own backpacks stuffed with a book and audio reader. Eighty-five students will “see” and “hear” each book, write a short book report and retell the book’s story to their classmates. The project focuses on word attack and listening skills, phonemic awareness and develops oral language and comprehension skills. The real goal is instilling a love of reading. Cost: $308.89

Science+Math+Technology = FUN! – Late Brake Aero Racer, Robert Leiper, staff award, Marshall Middle School: Middle school students have an opportunity to sharpen their math, science and technology skills as they design and build small balsa wood cars. Students will learn the scientific principles of friction, lubrication, aerodynamics, and Newton’s Laws of Motion. Each student will receive a rubber-band-driven propeller once they determine how to make the stopping scale for the braking mechanism. The racer project will be successful if 80 percent or more students achieve the predetermined stopping distance minus the amount the vehicle steers off the track. Cost: $1,000

Bennie Hickman Math and Science Award – Understanding the Characteristics of Quadratic by Launching Rockets, Joseph Cantu, staff award, Central High School: Pre-Calculus students will construct a rocket and identify two different forms of altitude tracking. Further, students will launch the rocket, and collect flight data using mathematics to conclude which form of altitude tracking is better and why. In addition, students will employ motion, force and acceleration skills they have learned in their physics class. Cost: $821.61

Lego My Simple Machine – Robin Ceaser, staff award, South Park Middle School: Students of all ages love to work with Legos. NASA has capitalized on the Lego craze and created a program that allows students to build Lego machines and connect with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). In order to participate, students build simple Lego machines and experiment with them. Then they connect their lesson to the NASA website, and see their machines in a microgravity environment. The Lego Project reinforces Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills objectives for middle school science courses. Cost: $645.95

“Mathematics Flashy” with Flash Master – Jennifer Lyons, staff award, Regina Howell: The FlashMaster is a hand-held “Game Boy” that makes using a calculator fun. This handheld electronic tool enables children to enhance both speed and accuracy of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division skills. The FlashMaster gives feedback after each activity and remembers results of previous activities. With the popularity of video games and handhelds, the FlashMaster is a perfect motivational tool to support independent elementary students’ learning of basic math skills. Cost: $959.35

“Hear a Chick, There a Chick, Everywhere a Chick, Chick” – Will Humber, staff award, Odom Academy: City middle school students rarely interact with chickens and goats. This unique project gives them the opportunity to do just that. Currently, the campus has 20 chickens and hopes to secure Boer goats to interact with the kids. The project requests a large incubator to hatch chicks from the “layer” chickens they now have. They also need to build several other coops and pens to separate baby chicks from more mature hens and roosters as well as a sodden area for chickens to forage for bugs and other insects and feeding facilities. Another barn/shed will house the goats. The skills students will learn from this project are immeasurable, Humber said. Another component is an entrepreneurship venture where middle school students could purchase chicks and a poultry project of their own. Cost: $996.93

What’s Up with the Sun? – Marissa Savoy and Silva Daigle, student award, Smith Middle School: Seventh graders want to create awareness for environmentally friendly energy sources by capturing the power of the sun and encouraging other kids to use solar energy as an alternative energy resource. A solar lab electricity kit, sun tracker kit, a solar resource guide and a sun stick kit will help students with their project. The main objectives are to plan, design, and implement comparative descriptive investigations by making observations asking well-defined questions and using appropriate equipment technology. Cost: $438.05

The Four E’s of Environment (Earth, Ecosystems, Ecology and Energy) – Raven Robinson, student award, Smith Middle School – This middle school student wishes to share with fellow environmental science classmates experiments and interesting facts that demonstrate critical issues affecting the environment and the sustainable technology solutions that can be applied to solve them. The major objectives of the project are to understand environmental topics including renewable energies, natural resource usage, climate change prevention, waste and water management and energy conservation. Materials requested include a sustainable earth lab kit and an ecosystems, ecology and energy games. Cost: $162.02

What is the effect of soil on plant growth? – Kelly Robinson, student award, Smith Middle School: Students will investigate the process of germination and identify if plants grow differently in different types of soil. They will learn how to use the scientific process to find out how different soils affect plants. The materials students will need for germination are flasks, potting soil, peat moss, peat pellets, a light and water meter, potting soil, sphagnum moss, a garden trowel, vermiculite and an economy plant stand with light fixtures. The students will recognize their success when they can replant the plants to create a garden on campus. Cost: $707.62

The amount of the grants distributed during the caravan totaled $6,040.42. The Bennie Hickman Grant and the Maurine Gray Grant are In Memoriam Grants to honor Bennie and Maurine’s many years of advocacy and service to the foundation. Their commitment to the BPSF enabled the foundation to grow and encourage staff and students to seek grants for creative classroom projects.