Three W.Va. Teachers Are Among 50 to Win $500,000

Posted: June 27, 2011
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Three West Virginia teachers are among 50 across the country chosen to receive $500,000 in grants through the Toyota Tapestry program that recognizes teaching excellence and creativity in science.
Julia Colaw of Petersburg Elementary School in Grant County, Carolyn Thomas of Wildwood Middle School in Jefferson County and Carol Muniz of Morgantown High School in Monongalia County will each receive $10,000. The proposed projects selected for funding were chosen because they present science concepts in novel ways
Colaw’s project, “Where in the Forest is Alliaria Petiolata?” is a hands-on learning experience in which students will collaborate with local ecologists and other experts. Students will use 21st century tools, including GPS and GIS, to solve a real world problem of managing the non-native invasive species alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)
in the Monongahela National Forest. This project is designed to provide experimental learning opportunities that will allow students to become confident, responsible citizens who are active stewards of the environment.
 
Thomas’ project, “Returning Home – a Place for Trout,” allows students to explore the brook trout, West Virginia’s only native trout. The fish is no longer found in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia because of degradation of habitat and poor water quality. The project will engage seventh grade students in the feasibility of re-introducing brook trout into Jefferson County streams. Students will study and observe the life cycle and habitat requirements of brook trout, evaluate the multiple factors that influence water quality, use technology to conduct and communicate research, study literature which describes a sense of place and practice basic fly fishing skills. They also will strive to make a difference in their community through service learning and promote community investment in a new park.
 
Muniz’s project, “Stream Monitoring of Decker’s Creek,” looks at a small stream contaminated by acid mine drainage. High school students will conduct multiple investigations, including monitoring water quality and its influence on the biotic organisms in the ecosystem. Students will partner with a local non-profit organization, Friends of Decker's Creek, to monitor stream quality and educate the Morgantown community regarding environmental concerns of this watershed. Students will design research investigations, collect and analyze data on site, and form conclusions based on their findings. The final stage has them present their research in a forum of their peers. Students also will work with university professors to develop a commercial to raise community awareness about the environmental concerns of the stream.
 
The Toyota TAPESTRY grants for science teachers program was established 1991. Since that time the program has awarded more than $9.2 million to 1,147 teams of teachers for innovative science classroom projects.
 
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699

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