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STEM program given $1.5K

Books are essential to learning, but Warren County School’s STEM program is going beyond them to study life. 

The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with McMinnville Electric System, Caney Fork Electric Cooperative and Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated, a TVA retiree organization, awarded Warren County School’s STEM program $1,500 for a STEM education project called “Studying Biodiversity Beyond the Books.” 

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

Students from Hickory Creek, West, Bobby Ray and Irving College will study and measure the species diversity outside their schools, says itinerant STEM teacher for Warren County School System Hannah Smith.

“We are so grateful to have received this grant,” said Smith. “I am very excited to implement this project into my classroom. This project will let students see the place outside their classroom window from a different perspective. Each school this project will take place at has its own unique habitat and surrounding landscape. I am very excited to see what we find.” 

Studying Biodiversity Beyond the Books will be conducted in two parts. 

For the first part, students will be outside sampling their school yard with supplies bought from the grant money, and will be identifying the plant and animal species found. While outside, students will take samples to conduct soil and water quality tests. 

Part two takes place inside. Once everything is identified, students will evaluate species richness and evenness of their sampled area to determine if their school yard is supporting a healthy and thriving ecosystem. Students will also create solutions to improve the biodiversity of their schoolyard and investigate reasons for low or high diversity. 

“We are so excited to see Hannah be the recipient of this grant,” said McMinnville Electric System general manager and CEO Rodney Boyd. “Being the daughter of one of our long-term team members, Neal Smith, we have watched Hannah grow up and become a wonderful educator. We’re celebrating along with her, calling this one keeping it all in the family. It is wonderful to witness the love of science cultivated in young minds. MES is proud to partner with local schools and TVA to offer opportunities for STEM grants.”