Teachers at Glen Forest Elementary School were awarded a Foundation for FCPS grant to provide a field trip for the 5th grade class to the Thinkabit Lab on the Falls Church campus of Virginia Tech. At the lab, students explore STEM related careers and assess their own strengths, interests and values. Then students work in teams, in the technical lab, to engineer, code and build a robo-craft. These creations were displayed in a gallery to the rest of the class, and everyone was able to gather valuable feedback and enjoy seeing what their classmates built. For many students, this was the first time they had been on a college campus, or a STEM lab, or had given thought to how specific careers could be related to STEM and what that actually meant. In many cases, visiting the lab was a catalyst to change student perspectives positively about STEM careers and what is possible for their future.
Students in the Young Scholars program at Mosby Woods participated in a 10-week after-school program, funded through the Foundation for FCPS, to explore potential solutions to food shortages in the world. The students learned how to engineer a vertical farm as one solution to the problem. They learned how an engineer would approach the problem, and followed the engineering design process to develop and test a solution. Students used a number of resources including recycled products to build a water pump system and light system to construct three different levels of a vertical farm. They started out small, learning about the process and uses of technology in many aspects of life, and worked up to their final design by creating window gardens, investigating ways to deliver water to different locations through tubes and pumps, and making sure each location receives direct light through lights and mirrors.
After completing their vertical farms, the students presented their findings to professionals in the field from Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, and to the Fairfax Food Council. They were able to interact with professionals, and answer questions about the real-world implications of the students’ work. Students gained a lot from their experience, including working in small groups, using critical thinking, applying creative skills, and learning about environmental stewardship. All of them wanted the project to last longer!
Great job, Mosby Woods kids!
Centreville Elementary School has a Green Ribbon with the US Department of Education and is an Eco-School with the National Wildlife Federation. Part of the school’s philosophy is teaching students that stewardship can be a profession. To that end, the Foundation for FCPS provided a grant that enabled students to expand the school’s garden and continue to hold the student-run farmer’s market, the first such one in Virginia. Students in 4th-6th grades figure out what vegetables to grow, what factors will help them thrive, and what other materials are needed to run a successful market. The school also receives vegetables from a local organic farmer to supplement the market and enable the entire community to have more choices for healthy eating. Students learned through the year how to operate a business and developed critical life skills in collaborative, communication, planning, customer service and math.
In the Young Scholar’s Career Academy at Braddock Elementary, 54 students in 4th and 5th grades gathered either during lunch or before school to learn about future careers and college opportunities. With funds from the Foundation for FCPS, students and parents were able to take a field trip to George Mason University, where they had a tour from a current student who also grew up locally. Grant funds also provided supplies for students to research different careers and educational paths. The students created presentation boards that looked like magazine covers for each career or college that they researched. They were surprised at the variety of potential careers that existed, and many of them learned about a path for the first time. The students held a Career and College Fair for the whole school, so everyone could benefit and see some interesting new ideas for their future. The Foundation is proud to support this important program and give students a glimpse into the possibilities.
A grant from the Foundation for FCPS allowed students at Cedar Lane School to work together to create and open a cafe inside the school. Students in the Work Awareness and Transition Program, a specialized program for students with disabilities, created this student-run enterprise from scratch. Working collaboratively, the students practiced many skills, such as teamwork, integrity, positive work ethic, collaboration, communication and interpersonal skills, and problem-solving. Funds from the Foundation enabled the students to purchase a custom counter, microwave, push cart, utensils, and the consumables needed to run a cafe. Finally, the students practiced customer service skills by selling items to their community. It was an excellent example of work-based learning – the students felt comfortable handling orders from familiar people, and can see themselves expanding the cafe to more customers in the coming year. Finally, the cafe brought students together and helped them feel part of a team. They were enthusiastic about the shared goal of operating a cafe and building skills for their future.
The art teacher at Bucknell and Cameron Elementary Schools had the great idea to inspire students to research careers and learn computer literacy and graphic design skills at the same time. Funds from a Foundation grant were used to purchase a large presentation color printer, paper and ink, so that she could work with students on Google Slides. She asked the students to select a career – something that they may be interested in learning more about – and research visual images about that career and other information, like potential salary, education requirements, etc. The students then were excited to assemble a presentation about the career they had researched, and print it on the giant paper. One hundred and seventy students were able to participate in this project, and the research they were doing led to many in-depth classroom discussions about salaries, money, taxes, and “whether or not a high income leads to a satisfying life.” The students found careers on-line that they had never heard of, researched them, and discovered they were interested in learning more. In the end, the students’ presentations were hung in the hallways of the school for everyone to read. Students learned how to research, and how to find and download images for presentations, and how to put the information together in a format that helped others understand what they had learned!
The AVID program in FCPS is an academic mentoring program and an elective class designed to support certain students in preparing for college. Students from under-served populations who have the capacity to attend college are identified to participate. In the elective class, these students are supported and encouraged to increase their rigor of coursework and set high goals, and ultimately attend a post-secondary program after graduation. In the 2018-19 school year, a grant from the Foundation for FCPS enabled AVID students at Annandale High School to explore career options available through either certification programs or an associate’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College. Students took two field trips, to NOVA’s Medical Education Campus and NOVA’s Annandale Campus, to explore the varying qualifications required to work in health care or tech. At the Medical Education Campus, students were intrigued by the simulators of pregnant women and babies, and were able to draw blood from a mannequin. All of the students improved their research and language skills in preparation for the field trips, as they studied different career possibilities and the educational work needed to achieve them. Teachers were impressed by the impact of taking students to these outside experiences, expanding their awareness of multiple opportunities. In the coming year, the teachers are planning even more field trips, to career fairs and colleges, to continue to show students their path to success.
The Foundation for FCPS announces that 44 teachers across the county have been awarded classroom grants of up to $2,500 for the 2019-2020 school year. Winners were selected from nearly 115 submissions, and were evaluated by members of the Foundation’s board. Grant awards were evaluated on innovation, number of students impacted, and the connections to work-based learning and future career exploration. Congratulations to all of our winners! Read about their projects at this link.
The Foundation for FCPS invites teachers to apply for its discretionary grant program for the 2019-20 school year. This grant opportunity was created in 2018 to support classroom initiatives that focus on developing or enhancing work-based learning, career exploration, or workforce readiness opportunities for students. Grant awards will range between $1,000 – $2,500 and be given to projects that are innovative and creative, enhance the standard curriculum and teaching methods, and have connections to Portrait of a Graduate. The application period will open on March 1 and close April 12, with funding provided to the schools in August, 2019. A link to the application can be found here.
More information about the grant program, past award winners, and a pdf of the application form for the 2019 grant program can be found on the Foundation’s website.
Additional information or questions can be directed to the Foundation office at 571-423-1031 or email@example.com.
On November 26, Hayfield Secondary School held a “Bridging the Gap” ceremony to donate refurbished laptops to wounded warriors and soldiers from Ft. Belvoir. Students in the Advanced Information Systems class work through the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program (VA STAR) to provide refurbished laptops for free to those in need in the community. Students learn how to rebuild and reset used computers, and then select community members to receive these machines. here.