Chair’s Corner: SAFE K-12 Teacher Grants

Donna headshot_bylineIn this issue I would like to share more with you about one of SAFE’s outreach programs: SAFE’s K-12 Classroom Teacher Grant. Started in 2013, the purpose of the grant is to encourage K-12 classroom teachers to incorporate aviation-themed lessons into their normal curriculum. Currently, there are two grants awarded, one for teachers in Grades K-7 and the other for teachers in Grades 8-12.
The money awarded comes from SAFE, as the Board of Directors strongly believe that this is part of SAFE’s mission to “promote learning in all areas of aviation for everyone at every level.” We would like to expand the program now that the infrastructure is in place to do so. I encourage anyone who wants to contribute to this worthy program to contact me or any SAFE Board member
SAFE receives many worthy applications from teachers each year. I’d like to share with you some information on those who have previously won so you will appreciate the importance of this program.
In 2013, physics teacher Lisa Damian, at Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport, Maine, was the first ever winner of the grant. Ms. Damian challenged her high school juniors and seniors to research, design and build a model rocket and used the grant money to purchase the model rockets. The students used a NASA engineering design process and applied Newtonian physics and numerical simulation to solve a second order differential equation.

In 2014, the program grew to two awards, and fourth grade teacher Sonya Williams, at the 107th Street STEM Magnet School in Los Angeles, California, and physics teacher Joseph Perrotta, at Starr’s Mill High School in Peachtree City Georgia, won the grant. Ms. Williams used the money to help develop an interactive aerodynamics unit on the four forces of flight while Mr. Perrotta used his SAFE grant to purchase remote-controlled helicopters for his advanced placement physics class. The equipment was part of a laboratory experiment to study Newton’s laws of motion and also to study torque and angular momentum.

Last year, third-grade teacher Doug James at Metter Intermediate School in Metter, Georgia, and science teacher Scott Cutler of at A.G. West Black Hills High School in Olympia, Washington, received the grants. Mr. James used his grant to purchase a specialized LEGO Education We Do Combo kit for his students to enhance the school’s STEM program, while Mr. Cutler, who is both a flight instructor and a science teacher, used his SAFE grant to enable his students to test various airfoil designs, study different types of aircraft propulsion systems, and fly their designs in computer flight simulators.
This year, SAFE is again awarding two grants. Any credentialed teacher in a public, private, or charter school as well as local STEM coordinators and homeschooling cooperatives may apply for the grant. Each grant is for $250 and also includes a one-year Associate Membership in SAFE, so the teachers can take advantage of all the online resources and other benefits offered by SAFE. The current deadline to apply is August 31, 2016. To learn more or apply, please click here.

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