Boardman teachers have experiments thanks to grant

By Bruce Walton


Finding funding for school programs can be difficult for teachers seeking to keep their classes up-to-date with state-of-the-art technology.

That’s why Amy Radinovic believes the Boardman Schools Fund for Educational Excellence is so important to classroom development.

“I think it’s invaluable” at a time when states are used to cutting funding to school districts. Such community foundations care about the kids and raise the money, and then fund projects that teachers are really invested in and excited about, explained Radinovic, the supervisor of community engagement for the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

The Boardman Schools Fund for Educational Excellence has awarded more than $40,000 to teachers to help them with new projects and teaching methods.

In December 2015, the foundation awarded six teachers with a small grant capped at $1,500 each for their classrooms. Science teachers Scott Lenhart and Laura Kibby used their funding for a hydroponic gardening system, stationed in their science storage room at Glenwood Middle School. The teachers said they had to apply to receive the grant by explaining what they could use the funding for.

“We identified a variety of areas our students needed to develop, including inquiry skills and understanding where food comes from,” they said together in an email.

The system allows for plants to grow without soil, pumping nutrients and water into the roots. Lenhart said it’s very hard to grow plants in the classroom because there are things they can’t control, such as the amount of light or water the plants need.

The two already have used the system for growing produce and flowers for their new courtyard garden and their recent experiment with Tomatosphere, an organization that examines how tomato seeds exposed to spacelike conditions affects their growth rates.

Tomatosphere works with schools in the U.S. and Canada to conduct its experiments.

Each student was given a tomato seed from Earth and a seed from the International Space Station. The class measured the growth rates and tried to distinguish the results. The class submitted the data to the scientists at Tomatosphere, and the students took their plants home on the last day of school.

Radinovic said she’s happy this funding can help the students as well as the teachers. “I think you learn more from doing something sometimes than from seeing it or reading about it,” she said.

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