Branching Out STEM Programs, Thanks to ZEF Grant
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Courtesy of ZEF
Last month, another round of Fall Classroom Grants was awarded to Zionsville Community School (ZCS) teachers from the Zionsville Education Foundation (ZEF). More than $33,000 was awarded for a total of nine classroom grants. The mission of ZEF is to serve the school community by providing funds that promote academic excellence. Its vision is to partner with the school community to instill in students a lifelong desire for knowledge. Over the last 23 years, the ZEF has awarded over $1.2 million in grants to educators and students in ZCS.
One of the eight grants that were awarded will expand ZCS’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. ZCS educators Kara Benson (Boone Meadow Elementary), Molly Haas (Eagle Elementary), Amy Brandau (Pleasant View Elementary), Kathy Drake (Pleasant View Elementary), Jennifer Skura (Stonegate Elementary) and Trish Brimmer (Union Elementary) were awarded $13,007.11 for the “Robotics for Newbies” grant that will benefit all ZCS elementary schools. The project brings excellent, age-appropriate robotics instruction with high-quality, engaging materials to all kindergarten and grade one students in ZCS.
“None of the robotics that we do would be possible without ZEF,” Benson emphasized. “Every single piece of robotic equipment in my room was paid for by a ZEF grant at one time or another. Being the lowest funded school district in the state means that we have to be creative if we want to provide these experiences for our students. For that reason, our PTOs are also invaluable in raising money for some of the technology that might just be a given in a district that receives more funds.”
Benson added, “When it comes to robotics, we want to give our students those experiences, but those experiences cost money. When the [ZCS] district is trying to make ends meet to pay salaries, etc., we have to rely on other sources, such as ZEF, for that support. And we really appreciate everything that ZEF does for our students.”