2016 Grant ceremony awards $38,400 to schools

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NEF awarded $38,400 in funds to 14 grant recipients during a special ceremony held at the Northborough Free Library on Sept. 13.

Superintendent of Schools Christine Johnson attended the ceremony, along with representatives from each school and the Northborough Free Library.

NEF President Marile Borden recognized the significance of the continued support of corporate sponsors, members of the community and schools, and the organization’s many volunteers who all help bring success to the fundraising events.

Last year’s fundraisers included the Golden Apple Appreciation Awards, Trivia Night, Mother/Daughter Princess Tea, Northborough Local First Ladies Night Out, and the Applefest Gala.

Proceeds from these events enabled NEF to fully or partially approve funding for the following grants:

Modeling the Imagination (Robert E. Melican Middle School): Students will be introduced to 3D printing. Funds will purchase twelve 3Doodlers printing pens, plastic strands necessary to build objects and various start up tools such as stands and nozzles. The 3Doodler is safe for classroom use, the eco-plastic is made from food-safe materials that are non-toxic, and the plastic is biodegradable. Students will gain a greater understanding of difficult, abstract ideas by creating a three-dimensional object.

Breakout Boxes (Robert E. Melican Middle School):  Students need to complete a series of puzzles to see what’s inside the box to earn their prize as they practice Spanish vocabulary and grammar, and they will have the opportunity to use their knowledge in hands-on, challenging situations in other classes.

Stand Up Desks (Fannie E. Proctor School):  Stand-up desks provide an alternative work space for students who learn better when they are allowed to stand  and  move while continuing to engage in the learning process and work with others, resulting in reduced distractions within the classroom.

Diverse Needs-Sensory Supports (Fannie E. Proctor School): The use of sensory tools will provide an innovative approach to learning to meet the needs of the school’s diverse learners.

Alternative Seating (Marguerite E. Peaslee School): By providing alternative seating options beyond the typical desk and chair, students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that works best for them and allows them to feel successful, happy and self-confident. Improving student engagement, developing self-regulation skills and enhancing learning are at the core of our educational system.

Community Reading Day (K-5, Robert E. Melican School): “Northborough Reads Together – Community Reading Day 2017” is a community-wide celebration of literacy. Students in preschool through Grade 8 will have the opportunity to hear high-quality children’s literature read by school, business, and community leaders. This inter-generational activity and the books selected will enhance the school curriculum and inspire students.

Northborough/Southborough Children’s Book Award (NSCBA) (Northborough Free Library, K-5 schools):  The NSCBA is a collaboration between teachers and librarians aimed at inspiring all third, fourth and fifth grade students to read great literature that supports and develops their individual literacy skills. Students read, discuss and enjoy at least three of twelve, librarian-approved titles and vote for their favorite.

Second Step (Fannie E. Proctor School): In a continued effort to support students in the area of social/emotional development, teachers of students in grades K-2, will have ready access to Second Step kits to allow for structured weekly lessons in the areas of perspective taking, empathy, conflict resolution, managing emotions, and problem solving. Competence in these skills can improve students’ readiness to learn, classroom behavior and academic performance. The program will also expand to third grade.

Imagination Playground (Marguerite E. Peaslee School): Oversized, blue foam blocks will be used as building blocks in the new Massachusetts Science, Technology, and Engineering Frameworks. Students will use these blocks as they develop 21st Century Skills both in the classroom during lessons as well as outside when engaging in creative play.

Piano Lab (Algonquin Regional High School):   Funds will purchase five electric pianos with stands and headphones, as well as five additional sets of headphones for existing electric pianos, to be used to start a Beginning Piano course. The course will be a great way for beginners to discover the joy of making music.

Digital Art Display (Algonquin Regional High School):  Student work created in Visual Art courses will have expanded opportunities to be exhibited in the school community. While not intended to replace physical, face-to-face exhibits of student work, Digital Art Displays will create a sustainable workflow for students and teachers to collaborate in sharing students’ creativity beyond the walls of the art classrooms, while reducing the time, cost, and environmental impact of physically printing digitally-native art.

Mobile Maker Spaces (Lincoln Street School, Marion E. Zeh School and Fannie E. Proctor School):  STEAM learning will offer students the opportunity to tinker, build, create, design, invent, solve problems and learn in a self-guided environment using both high-tech (robotics, electronics, and green screen) and low-tech (duct tape, corrugated cardboard, etc.) technology.

Winds of Change (Robert E. Melican Middle School):  Eighth grade students will be completing a cross-curricular project with the challenge “Design a wind turbine blade that generates the greatest amount of electricity at the lowest cost”. Students will explore and research the science, engineering, and mathematics behind wind turbines; use their research to design, test, and optimize their designs in a wind tunnel and analyze data; and focus on specific industry roles such as “design engineer”, “meteorologist”, “electrical engineer”, and “ecologist” to simulate what real world professionals would do to ready their design solution for the marketplace.

Writing Center (Algonquin Regional High School):  The school’s first student-run writing center will be a dedicated space for students to work one-on-one with knowledgeable peers on any piece of writing from across the curriculum at any stage of the writing process. Writing tutors will be able to accommodate the needs of all students. Ultimately, the writing center will centralize writing resources for the entire school and will promote cross-curricular conversation about writing, and further encourage collaboration as the chief method to promote individual growth and academic achievement.

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